My new book, Earth Is Best, will shortly be published by the Cultural Society. It’s a book of odes about mushrooms, mushroom foraging, altered states of consciousness, modern crises, and antique realities. It is a sequel to Phosphorescence of Thought. (In turn, it will one day be followed by its own sequel, The Hidden Eyes of Things, a planetary epic that approaches the unconscious through the discipline of astrology.) Earth Is Best takes its title from the opening three words of Pindar’s magnificent first Olympian Ode, elementally adjusted. The book, which features a gorgeous illustration of amanita muscaria by Todd Buck (below), was designed by Crisis.
I will be launching Earth Is Best at a reading/performance at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore on Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 6 p.m. I will be joined in the performance by Mark Booth, who will accompany the reading with improvised and found music.
The book will be available at the reading and, before too long, at the Cultural Society’s website. For the curious, here is a more detailed description of the book.
In a time of ecological crisis, Peter O’Leary finds in mushrooms “an elaborate pattern,” a circulation of energy, a strange Kingdom with the power to alter consciousness. From the opening line “Earth is best,” each proposition takes root in the terroir of soils, in the woods and meadows of the Upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest. On each foray, we find hidden systems bearing fruit, “crowning from the duff of white pines / and birch trees,” extending upward from “loam’s rich undying gloom.” Equally, these poems bloom from a rich mulch of linguistic inheritance, a compost of ancient texts and esoteric knowledge, searching out old words of exquisite exactitude and resonance. As readers, our attention quickens as we join the hunt, discovering elemental pleasures on every page, sometimes with the prickling onset of psychedelic consciousness. And like fungi, these poems work to break down false oppositions, returning us to a reciprocity between death and life, panic and joy, anxiety and euphoria, tocsin and cure.