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Planetary Nights, Poems by Jeanne LeVasseur

In Planetary Nights, Jeanne LeVasseur has written a luminous book that journeys back in time to explore prairies, rainforests and rodeos and moves forward to the fierce love and losses at the heart of life. Her poems dazzle and praise at the same time that they exhibit a tenderness that burns with compassion for the flawed, doubtful nature of our human world. There is lyricism, toughness, and meditative grace in these pages. Equally comfortable in the sick room and the natural world, she writes of both with deft particularity. Planetary Nights is a philosophically rich and deeply affecting collection.

Sample Poems by Jeanne LeVasseur

"'How many contemporary poets can write from experience about hands-on nursing and dairy farming? Or have ever looked a donkey in the eye? Jeanne LeVasseur has, and her profession as a nurse, strongly evident in the poems here, has given her a toughness that denies sentimentality and informs her other poems as well. It's this rare background, plus an uncanny talent for the right word and the smallest brilliant detail--'a solitary bee stumbles on the pink fringed heads of stone-crop'-- that testifies to the power of her work. Planetary Nights is the venue of a rich new voice in American poetry."--Brendan Galvin

"When you begin by 'steering into the dark, the mind going quiet,' and end as you 'dream into the night with the magic of the story' you realize much has been rethought and re-felt along the way. Indeed Jeanne LeVasseur takes us on an incredible journey that starts by examining beginnings and the endings: in between is a life counterpointing natural elements like milk snakes, bees, stars, moose and daffodils against a transcendent 'place beyond Beyond.' For her autobiography becomes a biography of us all as the specifics are projected onto the larger universals and yet remain 'drenched with recognition.' This is an amazingly smart first book whose recognitions come with the surprise of a fine and unique vision."-- Richard Jackson

"Jeanne LeVasseur writes 'words are our great thunder' and indeed in Planetary Nights she offers us a world grounded in reality yet touched with great imagination, a world in which 'burnt hills curve like the flanks of oxen sleeping.' and cows are 'moon jumpers with meadows in their bones.' Memory is a underlying theme as LeVasseur writes of loss, change and the necessity of connection and care, taking us from childhood and the awakening of desire to an adult world in which witnessing a first death holds echoes of all the transcendent moments that touch our lives. Her vision is wide, her poems are delicate and yet startle and intrigue; then like a good nurse, tenderly reassure."-- Cortney Davis

"These poems are so rich and fertile with wild and untamed words of thunder, from the mud, and ferns of the earth they swirl on their own axis. Even the familiar words like 'solar plexus' invite us in and warm the reader in pure wonder and joy. Keep Planetary Nights close by and read it repeatedly to be reminded of the value of your own footsteps."--Judy Schaefer

"Jeanne LeVasseur's inaugural poetry collection, Planetary Nights, is a revelation. Her prosody is as exquisitely lush as Linda Pastan's. And the delicious, ruminative quality of LeVasseur's poetics is reminiscent of Louise Glueck. However, LeVasseur's sensibility is all her own--an interweaving of light and gravitas that is, at once, both delicate and muscular. The first half of the book, largely concerned with growing up and into the world, brilliantly negotiates the spiritual meshing of body and landscape. The second half of the book, concerned with grief and life's temporality, grounded by LeVassuer's experiences as a nurse, offers piercing insights. Planetary Nights is a true tour de force."--Lana Hechtman Ayers

Jeanne LeVasseur is a nurse, poet and teacher. She is native to Connecticut and has lived in the middle and on the left side of the continent. She is a professor of nursing at Quinnipiac University. She holds an MFA from Vermont College and has been an enthusiastic participant at the Port Townsend Writer's Conference. She admires dogs and believes cows are muses in disguise.

ISBN 978-0359977369, 112 pages, $19.00

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