**To David, About His Education**by Howard Nemerov

## Friday, September 30, 2011

### The square root of Everest

Of the poets who frequently use mathematical ideas in their work, Howard Nemerov (1920-1991) is one of my favorites. Recently, while browsing at The Writer's Almanac, I found this poem.

## Wednesday, September 28, 2011

### Math meets Dr Seuss

Blogger Sue VanHattum (MathMamaWrites) sent me a link to a posting on another blog, kGuac, on which she found a Dr Seussical expression of the quadratic formula -- written by blogger Katie Benedetto for extra credit in her college abstract algebra class. Here are several stanzas of Katie's poem:

Labels:
Daniel Velleman,
Dr. Seuss,
equation,
formula,
IRS form QF,
Katie Benedetto,
quadratic,
Sue VanHattum

## Monday, September 26, 2011

### Learning to count

The childhood of Romanian poet Nichita Stanescu (1933-1983) took place during World War II and his teen years during his country's adjustment to a new Communist system; his dark images are drawn from a culture largely unknown to the outside world. Often, however, he utilized mathematical imagery or terminology; here is his "Learning to count."

Labels:
count,
divided,
Gabriel Prajitura,
JoAnne Growney,
Nichita Stanescu,
Romanian

## Saturday, September 24, 2011

### Mathematical theorems tornadoing

This poem is fun!

The horse discovered a gateway to another

dimension, and with nothing else to do, moseyed

into it just for grins, and man, you

don’t even want to know what happened

next—it was just, like, Horse at the French

Revolution. Horse in Franco’s living room.

**Horse’s Adventure**by Jason BredleThe horse discovered a gateway to another

dimension, and with nothing else to do, moseyed

into it just for grins, and man, you

don’t even want to know what happened

next—it was just, like, Horse at the French

Revolution. Horse in Franco’s living room.

Labels:
dimension,
Jason Bredle,
mathematical,
poetry,
spiraling,
theorem

## Thursday, September 22, 2011

### The wealth of ambiguity

When we read these lines by Robert Burns (1759-1796),

Oh my luv is like a red, red rose,

That's newly sprung in June . . .

we don't know whether he compares a woman he loves to a flower or whether it is his own emotion he describes. And the multiplicity of meanings is a good and pleasing thing. Similarly, when we read the problem,

Solve the equation, x² + 4 = 0

Oh my luv is like a red, red rose,

That's newly sprung in June . . .

we don't know whether he compares a woman he loves to a flower or whether it is his own emotion he describes. And the multiplicity of meanings is a good and pleasing thing. Similarly, when we read the problem,

Solve the equation, x² + 4 = 0

Labels:
ambiguity,
contradiction,
logic,
Michael Palmer,
principle,
proposition

## Wednesday, September 21, 2011

### Poetry at JMM -- in Boston 6-Jan-2012

**Call for Submissions:**

The

*Journal of Humanistic Mathematics*will host a reading of poetry-with-mathematics on Friday, January 6, 5-7 PM in Boston’s Hynes Convention Center at the annual Joint Mathematics Meetings. Reading organizers include JHM editors, Gizem Karaali and Mark Huber, and poetry-math blogger, JoAnne Growney. Although the reading is open to all, without pre-selected readers, we will prepare a written program of poets who submit their work by our

__December 1__deadline. Both mathematician-poets and others who use mathematics in their poems are invited to submit.

## Sunday, September 18, 2011

### Baseball, math, and poetry

The end of summer approaches and, with it, the end of the baseball season. This blog celebrated the triplet (baseball, mathematics, poetry) on 9 April 2010, featuring samples from and links to poems by Marianne Moore and Jerry Wemple. Today we herald the same trio, this time with "Night Game" by Jonathan Holden.

Labels:
baseball,
Jerry Wemple,
Jonathan Holden,
Marianne Moore,
mathematics,
parabola,
poetry

## Friday, September 16, 2011

### Best words in the best order

Writers of mathematics strive for clear and careful wording, especially in the formulation of definitions. Well-specified definitions can enable theorems to be proved succinctly. For example, the relation "less than" (denoted

If

Although the simple definition of "less than" as "to the left of" in the list {1,2,3,...} is intuitively clear, the formal definition above is better suited for mathematical arguments. It defines "less than" in terms of the known term, "positive." This sort of sequencing of definitions is common in mathematics -- one may go on to define "greater than" in terms of "less than," and so on.

Saying things in the

**<**) for the positive integers {1,2,3,...} may be defined as follows:If

**a**and**b**are integers, then**a < b**if**b - a**is a positive integer.Although the simple definition of "less than" as "to the left of" in the list {1,2,3,...} is intuitively clear, the formal definition above is better suited for mathematical arguments. It defines "less than" in terms of the known term, "positive." This sort of sequencing of definitions is common in mathematics -- one may go on to define "greater than" in terms of "less than," and so on.

Saying things in the

*best*way is also a goal of poetry. Well known to many are these words of poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834):## Wednesday, September 14, 2011

### Analysis of a sacred site

Poet Allison Hedge Coke descends from moundbuilders and mixed ancestry from several Native American communities with several Europoean ones. Her verse play,

*Blood Run*, is dedicated to the original citizens of the former city now named Blood Run along the Big Sioux River and to all who work to preserve sacred sites. Moreover, the entire text is mathematically encoded. Chadwick Allen, an English professor whose interests include American Indian and New Zealand Maori literatures and cultures, has written an article for American Literature that explores the sacred numbers and thematic geometry that connects Hedge Coke's verse with the sacred site; we will offer a sample of Allen's analysis following "Snake Mound"from*Blood Run*:
Labels:
Allison Hedge Coke,
Blood Run,
Chadwick Allen,
geometry,
mathematics,
poetry,
prime,
sacred numbers

## Sunday, September 11, 2011

### A Piece of Coffee -- Stein with some math terms

I love the poetry of Gertrude Stein. Perhaps this is so because I have never taken a class in which her work was taught and I have never read it with pressure to "understand." I enjoy reading Stein's poems aloud. Because they keep me alert -- both eye and tongue. Because they puzzle me. And because I sometimes see something amazing, true and almost within reach. Here, from

*Tender Buttons*/ Objects: is "A Piece of Coffee."
Labels:
certain,
double,
Gertrude Stein,
necessity,
negative,
number,
single,
Tender Buttons

## Tuesday, September 6, 2011

### Symmetric 4 x 4 square

Martin Gardner (1914-2010) studied philosophy and was interested in everything. For 25 years he wrote the "Mathematical Games" feature for

*Scientific American*. At Magic Dragon Multimedia, Jonathan Vos Post has collected many of the poems Gardner featured in his column over the years. Here is a symmetric square poem from February, 1964.**C U B E**

U G L Y

B L U E

E Y E S

U G L Y

B L U E

E Y E S

## Sunday, September 4, 2011

### Applying statistics . . .

From Seattle poet Kathleen Flenniken, a sensitive application of the normal distribution to the population of participants in an elementary school recorder recital:

The curtain lifts on Bryant Elementary School's

Spring Recorder Recital. Ninety third-graders

fumble with their instruments, take a breath

and blow. Their parents, braced, breathe too

as "Hot Crossed Buns" emerges, a little scattershot --

the Normal Distribution brought to life.

**The Beauty of the Curve**by Kathleen FlennikenThe curtain lifts on Bryant Elementary School's

Spring Recorder Recital. Ninety third-graders

fumble with their instruments, take a breath

and blow. Their parents, braced, breathe too

as "Hot Crossed Buns" emerges, a little scattershot --

the Normal Distribution brought to life.

## Friday, September 2, 2011

### Two ways to compute 1/3

Labels:
Betsy Devine,
cosine,
cube root,
David Pleacher,
e,
Integral,
Joel E Cohen,
limerick,
log,
mathematics,
pi

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