Tuesday, July 31, 2012

For Hazlett -- an Exquisite Corpse poem

At the recent BRIDGES Math-Art Conference at Towson University, I led a Sunday afternoon Poetry-with-Mathematics Workshop.  One of our writing topics was women mathematicians and, using material from a richly varied website of biographies of math-women, supported by Agnes Scott College, we workshop participants read a bio of Olive Clio Hazlett (1890-1974) and each wrote sentences of the form "This woman . . . " which I have assembled and and slightly edited into the following poem.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Math super-hero

One day not long ago I told my Silver Spring neighbor, Nancy KapLon (nee Lon), of my interest in helping outstanding math-women to be more widely known.  Nancy told me about her wonderful and excellent favorite teacher -- geometer Jean Bee Chan of Sonoma State University in California. Nancy ('93) was a  first generation college student and Dr. Chan, as her mentor, guided her through the undergraduate experience to graduation with distinction and graduate school. Here is a syllable snowball, grown in Chan's honor. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Math-women -- snowballing . . .

These syllable-snowball poems (increasing by one syllable from line to line)
note a few of the (living) math-women I admire.  
They are modest offerings --
not great poetry nor fully recognizing many accomplishments--  
but I want to start a ball rolling: 
look around you and notice the amazing math-women. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

She had a way with numbers

In Letters from a Floating World, artist and poet Siv Cedering (1939-2007) has given us a poignant portrait of astronomer (and math-woman) Caroline Herschel:
Letter from Caroline Herschel (1750-1848)     by Siv Cedering

William is away, and I am minding
the heavens. I have discovered
eight new comets and three nebulae
never before seen by man,
and I am preparing an Index to
Flamsteed's observations, together with
a catalogue of 560 stars omitted from
the British Catalogue, plus a list of errata
in that publication. William says 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An algorithm shapes a poem

Mathematics sometimes appears in poetry via patterns that follow the Fibonacci numbers. The pattern of Pascal's triangle also has been used.  In her intriguing collection, Do the Math  (Tupelo Press, 2008),  poet Emily Galvin (now also a California attorney) uses these and more.  Just as Euclid's Algorithm involves an interaction between two numbers, the following poem by Galvin applies the algorithm in a conversation between two voices.

Euclid's Algorithm    by Emily Galvin

These ten scenes happen on the blank stage.
A and B could be any two people, so long as
they've been together for longer than either
can remember.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

More of Hypatia -- brave, smart woman

Poet and blogger Ellen Moody offers a lively and informative feature on poet Elizabeth Tollett (1694-1754); Tollett, too, wrote of forebears she admired, including Hypatia (c. 370 C. E. - 415 C.E.) -- who has been described as the first woman to make a substantial contribution to mathematics. In contrast with Anne Harding Woodworth's focus on the tortured death of Hypatia, Tollett's lines portray the struggles of her life.

    Hypatia     by Elizabeth Tollett

    What cruel laws depress the female kind,
    To humble cares and servile tasks confined!
    In gilded toys their florid bloom to spend,
    And empty glories that in age must end;
    For amorous youth to spread the artful snares,
    And by their triumphs to enlarge their cares. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

She died for mathematics

     Hypatia of Alexandria (in Greek: Υπατία) (c. 370 C.E. – 415 C.E.) was a popular Egyptian female philosopher, mathematician, astronomer/astrologer, and teacher in Egypt. Her father Theon, a mathematician and the last librarian of the Museum at Alexandria, educated her in literature, science and philosophy, and gave her credit for writing some of his mathematical treatises. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What are the chances?

Ohioan Miles David Moore is an active participant in Washington, DC literary activities, including a reading series at Arlington's Iota Cafe.  The voice of his literary creation, Fatslug, adds jest and pathos to many readings.  In the poem below, Fatslug is victim of choice and chance:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Visit BRIDGES -- for (art and) poetry

This growing-then-melting syllable-snowball poem is offered in recognition of mathematician-and-poet Sarah Glaz and as a reminder of the poetry reading Glaz is organizing --  to be held at the 2012 BRIDGES Math-Art conference at Towson University, July 25-29.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

SHE can solve any equation!

Today's New York Times offers a tribute to Mildred Spiewak Dresselhaus, a professor emerita of physics and engineering at MIT.  The Times article, by Natalie Angier, begins with this verse from the 1948 Hunter High School yearbook:


     Any equation she can solve;
     Every problem she can resolve.
     Mildred equals brains plus fun,
     In math and science she's second to none.