Chaos Theories, poems by Elizabeth Hazen
The poems in Elizabeth Hazen’s debut collection, Chaos Theories, spring from a unique fusion of science and art in the writer’s heart and mind. In these elegant and often elegiac poems, Hazen explores how our lives, despite our best intentions, can spiral out of control, forcing us to wrest meaning from our own mistakes, as in these lines from “Burning Trash”:
…you who are so taken
by the promise of destruction, so watchful
for what lies beyond your father’s woods: the pull
of the future like a girl, naked
and certain. It is time for you to learn:
not all fires can be contained…
Hazen displays a complex, haunting sense of self as an entity that both longs for and resists connection. In her close observation and shimmering transformation of the details of everyday life, Hazen proves herself to be, as Henry James wrote, someone “on whom nothing is lost.”
In the world of Chaos Theories, science functions as both information and consolation, a way of untangling confusion, of seeing more clearly and cleanly. Elizabeth Hazen is a poet who understands that we are all searching in various ways to make order of our lives and loves, and who, like Virgil, leads us through the darkness and to the light.
On Chaos Theories
Fully embracing what the lyric mode does best, Hazen provides the readers with brief, intense poems that preserve a suspended moment in time, attempting to record the thought processes and emotions of the speaker much like tree rings reveal drought, heat, and age. With astonishing clarity and concision, Hazen explores the mysteries of our realities—which are ultimately beholden to entropy. —Charlotte Pence, Kenyon Review
Elizabeth Hazen’s unflinching first book, Chaos Theories, forms a powerful meditation on female identity and the cultural expectations that daughters, mothers, wives, and sisters resist and embrace. For Hazen, fate—familial or biological—is a form of magnificent havoc that reflects both the natural world’s lush beauty and the realities of science. A debut fluent in the language of desire, heartbreak, and regeneration. —Jane Satterfield, author of Her Familiars and Assignation at Vanishing Point
Hazen has a way of uncovering universal feelings that resonate, even if we haven’t experienced her particular grief or confusion. Each dark, explorative verse seems to prove that science does not always provide consolation, and in the end, sometimes the beauty in life lies in the unknowing. —Gabriella Souza, Baltimore Magazine
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