Monday, January 20, 2020

Remember -- and Celebrate

     Today as we remember Martin Luther King, I invite you to visit postings in this blog that celebrate his life -- follow this link.  
And here is a link to
And one more link -- 
          this one to The Mathematician's Project 
("Mathematicians Are Not Just White Dudes.")

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Math-Poetry tomorrow (1/17) -- in Denver at JMM

You are invited:
Sponsored by
SIGMAA-ARTS
and the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics

Monday, January 13, 2020

The world of Math Girls . . .

     This past weekend my oldest granddaughter turned sixteen -- and I intensely want every career door to be open to her and to my other granddaughters (and my grandson).  The times are changing, new doors are opening for girls and women,  Still, these syllable-square thoughts are on my mind this morning.  

     Math Girls     

          A math girl must be       
          smarter than the rest –-
          yet must be modest
          and never claiming.
          Math-World is not fair.

And here are more of my mathy-perhaps-poetic thoughts.

     When you’re a math girl you may be the only girl in the room.
          A math girl must be three times as good to be equal.   

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Browse Math-Poetry Links . . .

     Today I invite you to browse -- to spend a moment reading titles, clicking on a title that intrigues you.   ENJOY!

Monday, January 6, 2020

We become what we think . . .

     Browsing a recent issue of World Literature Today, I have found a thought-provoking activist poem by Linda Hogan that considers the ways we are shaped by "our numbers."  I offer below its opening stanzas:

       Embodied   by Linda Hogan

       I am embodied first by the numbers
       given my grandparents,
       no choice but to sign the Dawes Act.    

Thursday, January 2, 2020

With bits of mathematics, a poem for a New Year

     Here -- containing bits of mathematical terminology --  is an excerpt from "A Poem for the New Year" by Nigerian poet Christopher Okigbo (1932-1967).  

from    A Poem for the New Year     by Christopher Okigbo

          Where then are the roots, where the solution
          To life’s equation?

          The roots are nowhere
          There are no roots here
          Probe if you may
          From now until doomsday
          We have to think of ourselves as forever   

Monday, December 30, 2019

Poetry made visual with math terms

     As the year ends I have been revisiting books not seen for a while -- and one of them is Concert for Violin and Loneliness (Criterion Publishing, 2002) by the Romanian poet Mircea Goga (b. 1948). This collection was translated by Doru Radu and me.   Here are several samples in which Goga uses mathematical imagery to enrich his poems.

Poems by Mircea Goga

Proportions

Like an iceberg
of which only an eighth is visible --
of death we show only
life . . . 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Math-poetry in support of immigrants

     Winner of the Ted Hughes poetry award, British poet Hollie McNish has been in the news recently as she has been commissioned to write a new version of Antigone.  Also of note is that her poem "Mathematics" -- about immigration -- has had over 2 million viewers on You Tube.

Here are a few lines from McNish's "Mathematics":

     I desperately want to scream
     “Your maths is stuck in primary”
     Cos one who comes here also spends
     And one who comes here also lends
     And some who comes here also tend     

Monday, December 23, 2019

Counted syllables --> holiday wishes . . .


 * 
 My 
 wish for 
 you is peace 
 and happiness 
 and whatever else 
 will count for you.  THANK YOU 
 for  all  you  share with 
 me.  My nights and 
 days are rich 
 from your 
 gifts! 
    

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Where are you from?

A question often asked when meeting someone new is "Where are you from?" -- one of my neighbors, who was born in India and now lives in Maryland, has written a poem that considers many ways one might answer that question.  Today, I have been thinking about it too.  Here are several of my beginning thoughts . . .

     I am from the barn yard, counting chickens
          I am from arithmetic, multiplying
               I am from algebra, solving
                    I am from calculus, integrating
                         I am from poetry, looking for words   . . .

Monday, December 16, 2019

Writing to Learn -- try Haiku

     Some of us learn a concept best when we write about it -- taking notes in class or while reading OR simply exploring our mind's thoughts.  Recently I discovered (in AAAS Science Magazine) these "Elemental Haiku" by Mary Soon Lee  -- offering a Haiku for each element in the periodic table.

For example, for Silicon (Si, atomic number 13) we find this:
Locked in rock and sand,
age upon age awaiting
the digital dawn.

Trying to find a Haiku to describe ALGEBRA, I came up with this:
Learn to represent
problems using equations--
then learn to solve them!

To explore previous postings of Haiku in this blog, here's a link!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Using mathematics in the Pursuit of Happiness

     One of my favorite blogs to visit is Maria Popova's Brain Pickings -- occasionally Popova's posts link mathematics and poetry    Here is a screen-snip of a Brain Pickings posting featuring verse by Lillian R. Lieber (1886-1986) -- one of my favorite math-writers.

From Lieber's 1961 bookHuman Values: Science, Art, and Mathematics

Here is a link to this blog's previous mentions of Lillian Lieber.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Qatar teacher uses Arabic poetry to teach math

     Today I call your attention to an inspiring story -- Mohamed al-Janahi is an engineer-turned-elementary-school-math-teacher who uses Arabic poetry to help students understand mathematical concepts.  More of this story is found here,   In Arabic, in this YouTube video, al-Janahi tells of his work.
     And to add a bit of poetry in English, I offer a couple of stanzas of "Time" from my collection My Dance is Mathematics (now out of print but available online here).

from   Time       by JoAnne Growney

                  I

          The clock goes round —
          showing time a circle
          rather than a line.
          Each year's return to spring
          swirls time on time.  

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Reaching for the stars . . . with science and poetry

     Astronomer Beatrice Muriel Hill Tinsley (1941– 1981) made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the evolution of galaxies (See, for example, Wikipedia).  California math teacher, editor and poet Carol Dorf celebrates Tinsley in the following poem. 

       Ask for a universe and what do you get?
                a Golden Shovel for Beatrice Tinsley            by Carol Dorf

       For a while scientists' proposed loopholes
       crossing the universe, wormholes a technique in
       which to traverse distance to other worlds, this

       unpleasant constraint which most reasoning
       holds us to a single solar system or may
       be, just perhaps a transit could exist  

Monday, December 2, 2019

Dogs Know . . . Mathematics

     A mathematics/statistics education researcher who writes both poetry and song lyrics -- who writes these often and well -- is Lawrence "Larry" Lesser, professor at The University of Texas at El Paso.  A search of prior postings in this blog leads to a variety of Lesser's poems: here's a link.
   And here is another Lesser poem to enjoy  -- this one found along with lots more math-poetry in the Bridges 2016 Poetry Anthology, edited by Sarah Glaz (Tessellations Publishing, 2016).
   
       Dogs Know     by Larry Lesser

       A dog-eared College Mathematics Journal lies
       open to a paper called
       "Do dogs know calculus?"
       where the author's canine travels land
       and water to reach most quickly
       the ball thrown
       into Lake Michigan.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

I am THANKFUL for . . . mathematics, poetry . . .

Today as I am preparing for Thanksgiving -- with its guests and travel and remembering -- my thoughts have turned back to Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), one of the first American poets whose work I came to know and love.  Here are several lines from Sandburg's "Arithmetic":

from    Arithmetic     by Carl Sandburg

Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your head.
Arithmetic tells you how many you lose or win if you know how 
     many you had before you lost or won. . . .
Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from your head to your hand
     to your pencil to your paper till you get the answer. . . .
If you ask your mother for one fried egg for breakfast and she
     gives you two fried eggs and you eat both of them, who is
     better in arithmetic, you or your mother?
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sandburg's complete poem is available here.  And this link leads to previous postings in this blog of work by Sandburg that has math connections.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Poet of Number -- syllables counted by primes

     Margaret Zheng is a first-year student at Haverford College -- with interests that include mathematics (see page 2 at this link) and music and philosophy and poetry . . .  Margaret was a finalist in her county's poetry contest last year and she has sent me the following poem -- with syllable-counts that are primes:  

the mathematician     by Margaret Zheng

(2)     mappings,
(3)     permutings,
(5)     patterns free-mingling
(7)     on the page of the poet
(11)    of Number.  'tis the heartbeat of Heaven she
(13)    craves to feel -- resonances -- to hear -- harmonies -- to
(17)    see -- beauties lost like children in the city swamp of lights 
               and shuffling
(19)    feet kicking the pavement never gazing upwards 
               in fear their genius would burst
(23)    free of the benumbing thuds of concrete and whisk them away
                to-wards infinities primal . . .
(....)
Thanks, Margaret, for sharing your musical words!

Monday, November 18, 2019

Multiplication is vexation ... the rule of three, etc.

     There are lots of childhood rhymes that celebrate the use of numbers -- here is a sample (found at this website)  -- the "Rule of Three" also is the subject of an interesting article by Ben Johnson, "Using the Rule of Three for Learning." 

          Multiplication is Vexation   

          Multiplication is vexation;
          Division is as bad;
          Rule of Three doth puzzle me,
          And Practice drives me mad.

     My recent browsing on the topic of math-phobia started when I came across this article focused on "tackle the fear head on" in the Washington Post.  I am grateful that many are working to help others overcome anxieties related to math.
Results of a search of this blog using the term "anxiety" may be found here.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Connecting mathematics to a larger world . . .

     I begin with words from a former student -- a postal worker who had retired early and went back to school to become a primary-school teacher:

                    I will teach
                    mathematics
                    by punctuality
                    and perfect attendance.

     In 1959, a Rede Lecture by C. P. Snow (1905-1980)  famously identified two separate cultures  -- the scientists and the humanists -- and these days what is often termed the STEM to STEAM movement is attempting to humanize the sciences by emphasizing the necessity of the arts in scientific study.  

Monday, November 11, 2019

Mathematics -- something useful ... or beautiful ...

     I offer a sample below from a poem by Jane Hirshfield entitled "Mathematics" and invite you to go here to read the entire poem -- and to reflect on it.  What does the poem say that is true about mathematics?

from Mathematics     by Jane Hirshfield

          I've envied those 
          who make something 
          useful, sturdy— or
          a chair, a pair of boots.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Try it -- you'll like it -- write an ACROSTIC poem!

     When solving problems in mathematics, the constraints that are imposed on the solution often are helpful in solving it. As a simple example, if we are given the lengths of  the two shorter sides in a scalene triangle, the problem becomes easily solvable if we know that the triangle is a right triangle.
     Poets also often find constrains helpful in shaping their words into special meaning.  For example, the rhythm and rhyme scheme of the poetry-pattern called a sonnet have led to many notable poems.  In this blog, in earlier postings, we have celebrated the FIB -- a six line poem whose syllable-counts obey the Fibonacci numbers. A popular form of poetry for calling attention to a particular idea is an ACROSTIC poem -- a poem in which the first (or other) letters of each line spell out a word or phrase.  Here is my sample:  MATH POEMS HELP US SEE.   

     M     My
          algebra
     T      teacher
          has   

Monday, November 4, 2019

Weaving mathematics into poetry . . .

     José Alan Esparza Lozano is from the border region of Ciudad Juárez, México and El Paso, Texas -- and traveled to Cambridge, Massachusetts where he graduated in 2019 from MIT with a BS in mathematics. Currently he is an award-winning graduate student in Santiago, Chile -- and he has a book of math-linked poems which I have much enjoyed reading (and from which I offer one of my favorites below).
    Lozano's poetry collection is called Chrysalis and Self -- and print copies are available at amazon.com -- moreover, if you are interested, you may contact the poet about the possibility of obtaining an electronic copy. Here, from page 36, is "Manywhere" -- and the poem is followed by a note from the end-of-book note that offers explanation of the mathematics contained therein:

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Math-Poetry at JMM in Denver --January 2020

Deadline, November 12 -- Math-Poetry Contest for Colorado students
More details here in this blog-posting and 
here at the American Mathematical Society website.
Winners will read at the 2020 Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM)
on January 18 at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.

Deadline November 15:  details below about how to sign up to participate 
in a JMM poetry reading on the evening of January 17 -- 
also at the Denver Convention Center.

    Continuing a math-meetings tradition, math poets will gather at JMM for an MAA Special Presentation: An Evening of Poetry -- this upcoming program will be on Friday, January 17,  7–8:30 pm, in Room 503 of the Colorado Convention Center.  In 2020, we want especially to feature poetry with a focus on how math can help unify us and improve our world.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Celebrate Halloween with counting rhymes . . .

Halloween, Halloween, strangest sights I've ever seen . . .

Three Little Witches

One little, two little, three little witches
Fly over haystacks, fly over ditches,   

Monday, October 28, 2019

A pleasing permutation of lines -- the Villanelle

     A villanelle is a 19-line French verse form -- with lines divided into five three-line stanzas and a final quatrain -- a poem in which the first and third lines each appear four times.  This thoughtful repetition of lines, each time in a somewhat different context, is very pleasing -- and reminds me of the varied situations in which many mathematical models also are effective
     Well-known villanelles include “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas, and Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art.” (And here is a link to this blog's offerings of villanelles.)   Below are the opening stanzas of a fine villanelle by Emily Grosholz; the entire poem is included in an article in The Mathematical Intelligencer, "Figures of Speech and Figures of Thought" (available here).  The article -- written by Emily Rolfe Grosholz and Edward Rothstein -- is based on an interview of Grosholz at New York City's Poets House and celebrates her book Great Circles -- The Transits of Mathematics and Poetry (Springer, 2018).  

from  Holding Pattern     by Emily Rolfe Grosholz   

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Playing with permutations of the nouns of a poem

     Founded in 1960, OULIPO  (short for French: Ouvroir de littérature potentielle) has been active in the exploration of the effects of constraints or arbitrary rules  in the production of literature.  
          Developed in the 13th century, the sonnet 
                   (with 14 lines, 10 syllables per line and a prescribed rhyme scheme) 
                       is a well-known member of these "constrained" forms.  The Haiku is another.
     Published in 2005, the Oulipo Compendium, Revised and Updated (edited by Harry Mathews and Alastair Brioche, Make Now Press, Los Angeles) contains definitions and examples of a large variety of rule-following writing.  On page 173 we find some interesting comments about language by French poet Jean Lescure (1912-2005):
     " . . . Lescure remarks that we frequently have the impression 
          that language in itself  'has something to say' and that nowhere 
          is this impression more evident than in its possibilities for permutation.  
          They are enough to teach us that to listen we must be silent
          enough to transform a well-oiled bicycle into a well-boiled icicle."   

Monday, October 21, 2019

Poems and Primes

     Recently Press 53 offered a "Prime 53 Poem" poetry challenge -- to write a poem meeting these conditions:
     ·      Total syllable count of 53
     ·      Eleven total lines 
     ·      First three stanzas are three lines each with a 7 / 5 / 3 syllable count 
     ·      Final stanza must be two lines with a 5 / 3 syllable count, for a total syllable count of 53
     ·      Rhyme scheme (slant/soft rhymes are fine) aba cdc efe gg
A Prime 53 poem’s total line count is a prime number (11), the syllable count in each line is a prime number (7 / 5 / 3) with each line of the last two-line stanza a prime number (5 / 3), and the poem’s total syllable count is a prime number (53).

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Small and large -- poetic views . . .

     A favorite on my bookshelves is The Book of Disquiet: the Complete Edition by Fernando Pessoa*.  Here is a math-poetic item from this "diary" by Pessoa:

     In a discussion about how a village may be larger than a city 
          because you can see more of the world there  -- Pessoa quotes (on p. 241) 
               these lines from Alberto Caeiro, one of his writing personas: 

                 Because I am the size of what I see
                 And not the size of my own stature.

     These lines are from Millimeters (the observation of infinitesimal things),
          on pp. 67-69: 

Monday, October 14, 2019

Using poetry to open dialogues with science . . .

     Recently I have obtained a copy of Sam Illingworth's book, A Sonnet to Science:  scientists and their poetry (Manchester University Press, 2019)  -- a collection of essays-with-poems that features these six scientist-poets:  Humphrey Davy, Ada Lovelace, James Clerk Maxwell, Ronald Ross, Miroslav Holub, and Rebecca Elson.  
       A dust-jacket blurb describes the author:  
            Sam Illingworth is a Senior Lecturer in Science Communication, where his work involves
                   using poetry to develop dialogues between scientists and non-scientists
                   especially amongst traditionally under-served and under-represented communities. 
             Illingworth also is a poet -- with a poem-a-week-blog available at this link.
From Rebecca Elson (1960-1999), an astronomer and poet whose life was cut short by cancer, we have these math-linked lines (written in 1998 and on page 168 of A Sonnet to Science):

     Is there any language, logic
     Any algebra where death is not
     The tragedy it seems   

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Math modeling is poetry . . .

      Jennifer Pazour is a professor the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at  Rensselaer Polytecnic Institute and is, like me, a blogger.  Recently I discovered in her blog this 2014 posting that modifies a description of poetry by poet Geoffrey Orr to compare poetry with mathematical modelling.   First, a brief poem that for me illustrates the mathematical nature of the poetry of Orr -- followed by Pazour's poetry-math-modeling comparison.

       Manhattan Island Poem    by Gregory Orr

       Thin river woman with a concrete star
       wedged in her ear. I wrap
       a blue scarf of old movies around my eyes.
       At night I am a jar of fireflies dying.                   found at PoemHunter.com 

Monday, October 7, 2019

The Cube of the Rainbow

     Later this week a scheduled screening (in nearby Takoma Park, MD) of a film about Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) has prompted me to return to some rereading of Dickinson's verse -- which is occasionally mathematical.   For example:

       We shall find the Cube of the Rainbow     by Emily Dickinson

       We shall find the Cube of the Rainbow.
       Of that there is no doubt.
       But the Arc of a Lover's conjecture
       Eludes the finding out.

The stanza above is found in many places; my source is Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics, ed. by S Glaz and JA Growney (AK Peters/CRC Press, 2008).  This link leads to previous postings of Dickinson's work in this blog.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

"My number is . . ."

    More than twenty years ago I found and admired Montana poet Sandra Alcosser's poem, "My Number" (included in Except by Nature, Graywolf, 1998) -- and I included it in a small anthology, Numbers and Faces, that I edited; (published in 2001 by the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics).  "My Number" also has more recently also been included in Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics  (Edited by Glaz and Growney: AK Peters/CRC Press, 2008).

My Number     by Sandra Alcosser
I’m linked with the fate of the world’s disasters 
and only have a little freedom to live or die.
VITESLAV NEZVAL
My number is small.  An hundred pounds of water,
A quart of salt.  Her digit is a garment.

I wear her like a shadow.  We judge each other,
My number and I.  She is the title.  The license.

The cash drawer.  My random number.
She protects me from myself.  She desires me.

She says she’s only one of thirty million species.
She wishes she were more than anecdotal evidence.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Personalities in Mathematics . . .

     For those of us who spend time in the World of Mathematics, numbers and other mathematical objects often develop personalities.   Previous posts have featured poems by the French poet, Guillevic, whose verses animate geometric objects.  Today I offer (below) a photo of  "Glum Circles" -- found in the imaginative collection, Lyrical Diagrams   -- with prose poems by David Greenslade and images by Carolina Vasquez (Shearsman Books, 2012).

An online sample of the first 17 pages of Lyrical Diagrams is available here as a pdf.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Articles that link math and poetry . . .

Below I offer links to two articles that I rediscovered recently. 
     The first is a National Geographic Education Blog posting from 2018, "How Math and Poetry Intersect" (an article for which I found no author named).  This article offers a variety of activities for students.
     The second article comes from The American Scholar, way back in 2009 -- a thoughtful article by Joel E, Cohen entitled "A Mindful Beauty:  what poetry and applied mathematics have in common" -- an article also mentioned in this 2010 blog posting.  

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Sing a Song of Mathematics . . .

     One of the long-term supporters of links between mathematics and the arts is Douglas Norton -- a mathematics professor at Villanova University and very active in the Special Interest Group of the MAA (SIGMAA)  that celebrates Mathematics and the Arts.  
     Doug Norton also is a song-writer and often has participated in music activities at the Bridges Math-Art Conferences.  Here is a sample of his math-art lyrics:

     Take A Chance On Me   by Doug Norton

     If you change your mind and want two combined,
     Don’t do Math alone:
     Join the Math Art zone.
     If you do Art, let me know, spread some Math around.
     If you’ve got no place to go with an upper bound,
     Math or Art alone feeling monotone?
     Do as we condone:
     Join the Math Art zone.  

Monday, September 16, 2019

Beautiful algebra -- a Haiku

     One of my recent discoveries has been the POEM GENERATOR website at https://www.poem-generator.org.uk/.  In particular, I have used it to help me to generate Haiku to celebrate special birthdays.  Typically, the generator offers me a Haiku that does not quite satisfy me -- and I tweak it a bit.  STILL, the website deserves most of the credit -- for it has given me a basis to mold.  This morning, I have used the site to help me generate a math-Haiku:

          Beautiful - A Haiku   by  https://www.poem-generator.org.uk/haiku  and JoAnne

             Abstract algebra --
         creations beautiful, so
           useful, breathtaking.

Friday, September 13, 2019

"Creation Myth on a Moebius Band"

Found at this site, several MINIMS -- brief,thought-provoking poems by Howard Nemerov (1920-1991).  This one deftly uses the mathematical Moebius Band:

          Creation Myth on a Moebius Band    by Howard Nemerov

          This world’s just mad enough to have been made
          By the Being His beings into Being prayed.

This poet frequently used mathematics in his poems.  Here is a link to previous Nemerov postings in this blog.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Colorado Math-Poetry Contest -- deadline 11-12-19

 CONSIDER THIS ! 
The American Mathematical Society is sponsoring  a  math-poetry contest  
 for middle school, high school, and undergraduate students in Colorado 
(deadline Nov. 12, 2019) with winning poems to be read January 18, 2020
at the Joint Mathematics Meetings at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.
 Information about contest entry is available here.  

     Last year a similar contest was held in Maryland, with winning student-poems (see poster) read  Jan. 19, 2019 in Baltimore.  And now, for students in Colorado:
       
          Pick
          up
          your pen.
          Think of ways
          that math is magic.
          Shape your words into a poem!

The stanza above is a Fib -- with syllables per line counted by the first six Fibonacci numbers.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Is TWO more than ONE?

     A poetry friend reminded me recently via email of the poetry of Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) -- both humorous and provocative.  The emailed poem was "Zebra Question" and it employs the strategy so often considered in mathematics -- in testing the truth of a statement, consider also the opposite.   Silverstein's "Zebra Question" opens with these lines:

       I asked the Zebra,
       Are you black with white stripes?
       Or white with black stripes?
       And the zebra asked me,
       Are you good with bad habits?
       Or are you bad with good habits?     

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Poems of Mathematics -- recalling some old posts

     Today I have been browsing some old posts, and offer below a few links to remind us of mathy poems posted in this blog more than five years ago

     “Compromise” by Charles S Allen     
           “Give Me an Epsilon and I Will Treat It Well” by Ray Bobo 
     “The Icosasphere” by Marianne Moore   
          “Mandelbrot Set” by Jonathan Coulton 
     “Numbers”  by JoAnne Growney (a syllable-snowball) 
          “Numerical Landscape” by Eveline Pye 
     “Talking Big” by John Bricuth 
         “Zito the Magician” by Miroslav Holub  
     "Gaps" by Philip Holmes

AND, please go on to SEARCH this blog for lots more poems by Eveline Pye and Miroslav Holub -- and for other names that you find listed in the right-hand column (under Labels . . .).

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Is this Fib true?


     Is
     it
     true that
     among folks
     not anchored to math
     by study or career choice, more
     people show delight in being poor at math than good ?

The lines above have syllable counts that follow the first seven Fibonacci numbers: 1,1,2,3,5,8,13.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Enrich Mathematics Classes with Poems

    In my mathematics classrooms, I have found it a challenge to include the history and spirit of mathematics -- and its people -- along with the math topics to be covered.  Because I love poetry -- and also write some -- I gradually became aware of poems that could enrich my classes and I began to incorporate poetry in outside readings and essay topics and class discussions.

Here are links to poems that introduce the lives of four math-women:
     Sophie Germain (1776-1831)
     Florence Nightingale  (1820-1910)
     Amalie "Emmy" Noether  (1882-1935)
     Grace Murray Hopper (1906 - 1988)
And here is a poem about four influential teachers of mine; three of them math-people; three of them women.

Math Anxiety can be a hard topic for student or teacher to bring up -- but airing of views and healing might come from discussion.  Poems to consider include: 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The personal becomes mathematical -- in poetry

     Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) used counting in her description of love in her sonnet that begins "How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways."  Contemporary artist, poet, and retired math professor Sandra DeLosier Coleman finds relationships a bit more complicated -- and builds her description in the poem below on the square root of two.

       Between You and the Root of Two     by Sandra DeLozier Coleman

       I have less chance of knowing you
       than of writing out the root of two.
       How e're I start, it never ends,
       exploring how love lies, pretends.   

Monday, August 26, 2019

Counting the Women . . .

     Sometimes a professional group or a meeting-agenda or a table of contents contains so few women's names that they are easily counted.  In this syllable-square stanza, I praise the absence of that condition: 

     This stanza and others with similar attitude appear in "Give Her Your Support" -- a poetry-page published recently in Math Horizons.  For the entire collection, follow this link.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Journal of Humanistic Mathematics--a TREASURE

     Online and available FREE, the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics is a wonderful source of poems and stories and articles that connect mathematics to life.  Thanks to editors Mark Huber and Gizem Karaali who lead the effort to bring us new issues each January and July.  Here is a link to the Table of Contents for the July 2019 issue.   Included in this issue is a thoughtful article by Sarah Mayes-Tang entitled "Telling Women's Stories:  A Resource for College Mathematics Instructors" -- and, related to this, here is a link to postings in this blog found using a SEARCH for "mathematics and women and poem."  (Scroll down the list of postings to find individual poems.)
     This current issue of JHM also offers a selection of five poems and also a folder with insightful reflections in both prose and poetry -- "A Life of Equations Shifting to a Life of Words" by Thomas Willemain.

Follow the links.  And enjoy!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Celebrating Paul Erdos

     One of the most interesting and productive mathematicians of all time was Paul Erdos (1913-1996).  He was author of more than 1416 papers, and his name became associated with a labeling process for mathematicians, an idea called the Erdos Number.  A mathematician who co-authored a paper with Erdos could claim Erdos Number 1.  A mathematician who co-authored with a co-author of Erdos had Erdos Number 2.  And so on.  
     Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya (one of the poets at the 2019 Bridges MathArts  Conference) has written a wonderful poem to celebrate Erdos;  I offer below the central stanza of Bonch-Osmolovskaya's poem; the complete poem is available here.

from:   Paul Erdos     by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya

          he inhaled and exhaled mathematics   

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Poetry and Science

     Originally from Scotland, Alice Major is a celebrated Canadian poet whose work often focuses on key ideas in mathematics and science. (Visit her website for lots of links.)  The following lines of Major's verse appear in the Canadian magazine Prairie Fire (offering Major's presentation in the Anne Szumigalski lecture series entitled "Scansion and Science"); they are taken from Major's latest collection, Welcome to the Anthropocene."  Enjoy this sample, then follow the links and read much more:

 . . . poetry by Alice Major . . .

Also from Welcome to the Anthropocene, Major's poem  "Zero divided by zero" is available at this link here in my blog "Intersections -- Poetry with Mathematics" -- and a blog-search leads to lots more of her work.

Monday, August 5, 2019

A visual poem -- Decision tree

From Norwegian math-poet Mike Naylor, this fascinating visual poem. 
(Thanks, Mike -- from JoAnne Growney -- for permission to post.)

Naylor presented this poem at the 2019 BRIDGES Math-Art conference
More information about the poets and poems for the 2019 BRIDGES Poetry reading is available here.