Reversing Entropy: Poems (Paperback)

Reversing Entropy: Poems By Luci Shaw Cover Image

Reversing Entropy: Poems (Paperback)


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From the pen of beloved poet Luci Shaw comes a new collection that celebrates inspired creativity as an antidote to chaos.

The poet’s own words best describe the heart of this pinnacle collection of new work by beloved writer Luci Shaw:

Entropy: A measure of the molecular disorder, or randomness, of a system, its lack of order or predictability, resulting in a gradual decline into disorder. 

Our universe, and the systems within it, constantly shift from their created states of order towards disorder, or chaos. The second law of thermodynamics asserts that entropy, or disorder, always increases with time. Creative human activities such as art, architecture, music, story or film are human efforts to halt and reverse this loss of meaning. Thus, smaller systems, like individual poems, become highly ordered as they receive energy from outside themselves, from the poet. They reverse entropy because they are moving from a state of disorder (all the random ideas, words and phrases available to the writer) into an orderly form designed by the writer to create meaningful images and concepts in the reader’s mind (which is where the word “imag-ination” comes from.) This transfer of images, concepts and ideas into the mind of a reader is the task of poetry and the calling of the poet. Just as a composer of music gathers rhythms, notes, melodies, or harmony, organizing them into fugues or sonatas or concertos, so poets work and write to discover ways of arranging their responses to the world in words that introduce meaning and beauty in the mind of the reader. 

Which is what I’ve been trying to do for most of my life. 

Luci Shaw was born in London, England, in 1928. A poet and essayist whose writing has appeared in numerous literary and religious journals, in 2013 she received the tenth annual Denise Levertov Award for Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. The author of over thirty-five books of poetry and creative non-fiction, since 1986 she has been Writer in Residence at Regent College, Vancouver. She lives with her husband, John Hoyte, in Bellingham, WA.
Product Details ISBN: 9781640608702
ISBN-10: 1640608702
Publisher: Iron Pen
Publication Date: April 2nd, 2024
Pages: 128
Language: English

In her newest collection, Reversing Entropy, Luci Shaw sings a “benediction/of beauty” where “[g]race comes in every/gather of green” and “contraries...join all the making/and remaking/within the fluid universe.” Her rituals of observation and creation—be it hiking, knitting, photography, or writing—interweave the natural and spiritual. The darkened woods we stumble through lead to the lake, where “the moon’s doubled/image drowns us in soft light.” In these wise and wonderous poems, the poet ponders how to hold onto memory and how to let it go. Beginning with her affirmation “the body, that ancient house for the soul... spins toward ultimate healing,” she also meditates on faith, relationships, and aging, allowing space for grief and questions. Most essentially—in a life that chooses energy over entropy—Luci Shaw celebrates creatures, creatives, and the Creator, vowing “to live like the cedar tree in the psalm/ never/let the years hinder my going and my growing.” May it be so. Reversing Entropy astutely mentors us for a thriving and enduring life. —Marjorie Maddox, author of Begin with a Question 

“Every lost word will recall its meaning,” Luci Shaw begins in this, her latest volume, all “restored to its place in a poem.” How often she has reminded us that what “seems mundane and trivial may show itself to be a holy, precious part of a pattern,” I think of the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins when I enter her poems. How often she has captured the light shining in and through the things of our world, her scintillant music transforming what is there before us, there in the stars and at our feet in the sand and pebbles and motes around us. With her photographer’s trained eye she humbly reveals again and again the incredible abundance of God’s plentitude. And for that gift, so gracefully and abundantly bestowed, I thank and praise her. —Paul Mariani 


Reversing Entropy incarnates what Luci Shaw’s long life gives record to: that all things are transformed, from leaf to dirt, from lost words to new poem; from shadow to light. For her the order of the universe is the re-ordering of disorder. As in the past, so these newest poems are almost preternaturally attuned to the changes and always changing natural world—the slow growth of lichens; the quick migrating flights of starlings. Luci Shaw’s poems and life have been lived in faithfulness to the gift of the world around us, a gift intimately connected to the gift of words, to the making and remaking that goes on and on. She is a woman utterly open to the annunciations of starlight, to the “music” of fragrant lilies of the valley, to the exuberance of spring green leaf-light. She has lived her life according to one abiding principle: let wherever you find yourself be a place of opportunity rather than disappointment. These new poems exemplify what it means to be present, to live in a state of readiness for whatever comes next. —Robert Cording 

Those who love Luci Shaw's earlier poems will find in these a familiar, welcoming openness to the light that shines from every leaf and the voice that speaks in wind. In these her attentiveness to the created order extends to other dimensions of awareness—of her own longings and losses, of the scope of small pleasures, of how acceptance gentles the challenges of aging and of the learning that happens in moments of letting go. Images and words linger long after putting the book down and widen like ripples on waters disturbed by a soft breeze. —Marilyn McEntyre,  author of Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, When Poets Pray, and Speaking Peace in a Climate of Conflict 

In Reversing Entropy, Luci Shaw takes a stand with eternity against the passing of mortal time. In poems that by turn lament and accept the evening of her many days, she is able to feel "the dark at its deepest" while remaining her "flush, fresh, living" self. She makes me hope that all of us, as we age and slow, will still be "like kids waiting / to go outside for recess." There, on that far playground, "shadow will be consumed by the wide mouth of light." —Paul J. Willis, author of Somewhere to Follow 

Luci Shaw in Reversing Entropy, her new book of luminous poems, confronts chaos and plague, indeed, old age and death, and rolls them back on themselves, discovering when she does that “beauty will not be / always dimmed, no matter how long it waits.” Throughout the lyrical collection, Shaw “[p]airs the antonyms/energy and entropy,” as she tries to recapture each “lost word,” recognizes she’s “never been this old before,” and grieves the loss of her only sibling whose “jagged narrative of a life” is “a cold meal . . . flavored with bitter herbs.” In so doing, she explores the lichen’s underworld, mountain trails, whales and weeds, even a Sequoia “thick as God’s arm,” so that with her, we can see how “[g]reen/gushes from every notch and knot” and “sunlight winks its enchantment.” In reflecting upon all that she has weathered, Shaw’s signature voice invites us to feel the “torn tissues / ragged blemishes” of “[f]ailures” and “regrets,” yet pin our hope on the “gleaming fabric of / metaphors” and the “tenacious / truths . . . that will not fade like breath on a / mirror.” How can we possibly say no? —Julie L. Moore, author of Full Worm Moon 

Luci Shaw is the patron saint of wonder. She writes of needing to be there, in creation, like a journalist taking field notes. And we need her to be there, too, "holding all the pinning it in print on paper." Of all the loveliness she's captured, over many decades, this might be her best collection yet. —Sarah Arthur, author of A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L'Engle 

Luci Shaw’s new collection is a magical world of daily bread where ordinary objects trespass their boundaries...We are in a “circling universe” in Reversing Entropy, and we find ourselves in the reversal of entropy as life moves onward and onward into a life that we are told in God’s word lives forever. The writer of these verses is a weaver of melodies who has heard the Maker’s still small voice. —Diane Glancy, Christian Century