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This is the inaugural volume of a new series of literary hardcovers from North Atlantic Books. This series will collect the important work of writers who have served as major influences upon and contributors to the cultural and psychic milieu from which North Atlantic evolved.
A distinguished figure of American letters, whose work and spirit have bridged five decades of creativity, Gerrit Lansing provides a perfect launch for the series with this collected edition of his poetry, which astonishes by the variety of its poetic forms and concerns, lyrical and cosmological. It cannot easily be fitted into niches currently fashionable. Like a "seed growing secretly" (to quote a favorite poet of his, Henry Vaughan), it has influenced the American cultural underground since the late 1950s. Lansing was a friend and associate of generations of creative minds as diverse as the poet Charles Olson and the legendary filmmaker Harry Smith. Poet Robert Kelly notes that "he is the most learned among us, and the most fun."
Lansing has patiently fashioned a body of work that ranges from short poems such as "The Heavenly Tree Grows Downward" and "In Northern Earth," from which this collection takes its title, to longer cycles like the alchemical serial poem "The Soluble Forest." With themes at once personal and social, erotic and esoteric, Heavenly Tree, Northern Earth manifests the creative spirit of one of the important unheralded masters of modern poetry.