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August 12, 2005

entropy

We are off to Scandinavia until August 26, and I do not intend to post from there. Meanwhile, I leave you with a kind of "e-book"--about half of my long, narrative, formal poem entitled Entropy, now lightly illustrated and formatted to be read easily online. Click here to have a look.

I wrote Entropy in 1999-2001 but have been revising it lately. (I'm not quite finished with the revisions, and that's why the end is not yet online.) I submitted it to many publishers' contests in 2001-2003. It was selected as a finalist three times, but the odds against actually winning--and being published--seemed very low. Meanwhile, I found it difficult to find journals that would even consider running excerpts from a long, plot-driven poem. Hence I am happy to give it away here.

Entropy could be better, and if it were, it would be published by now. In that sense, I have no complaints or regrets. However, I was slightly frustrated that no one mentioned either the plot or the philosophy of the poem in all the correspondence that I received. Every comment, whether positive or critical, concerned the imagery. This response bolstered my prejudice that contemporary poetry is often too narrowly concerned with lyric--with first-person descriptions of images that have emotional significance for the writer. If Entropy has virtues, they are the rather elaborate, original, and (I hope) suspenseful plot; the dozen major characters; and the philosophical structure. This is not lyric.

Entropy posits a fairly serious metaphysics, such as might be argued by a philosopher who sought the truth about our world. It embodies that theory in an invented mythology, with a god to personify each major principle of the system. I don't like allegory, which is conceptual, static, and sterile. Therefore, Entropy puts the myth into motion by introducing contingencies, ambiguities, conflicts, human beings with hopes and despairs: in short, the elements of plot. The metaphysics itself explains why it might be worthwhile to make a plot out of an invented metaphysics.

I have decided to explain some of this structure, without saying so much as to foreclose alternative interpretations, in an "afterword" that is also available via the main page.

Posted by peterlevine at August 12, 2005 10:17 AM

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