Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Celebrate the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics

     Recently Vol.10, No.2 of the online Journal of Humanistic Mathematics has become available online.  This issue is a "Special Issue on Creativity in Mathematics" and the richly varied Table of Contents is available at this link.

Seven of the articles feature poetry with links to mathematics; these are:
     Poetry Folder:     Mental Logic: Two Poems     by Ashley Delvento
                           Natural by Design     by Craig Steele
     Poetry:         four seasons (haikus)     by Stephen Luecking
                    Dear Arithmetic     by Mary Soon Lee
                    Galileo's Verse     by Bruce F. McGuffin
                    Hexagons     by Barbara Quick
                    Changes and Deltas     by Jim Wolper

And here are a couple of samples: 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Point of Inflection -- and the coronavirus

     In the UK, the Radical Statistics Group describes itself as "using statistics to support progressive social change."  The June 2020 issue of their Journal -- Issue 126  -- is a "Coronavirus Special Issue" and it contains a poem by Texas professor-poet Lawrence Lesser.  Here are the opening stanzas.

     The Point of Inflection       by Lawrence M. Lesser

     The point of inflection
     is where towering terror of
     cumulative cases
     slows its rise.   

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Census . . . correct counting is not easy. . .

     One of the challenges of applying mathematics is doing it correctly.  Each of us has a limited view, often affected by biases such as racism and sexism. And Covid-19 concerns have further-limited our access to accurate information in situations such as counting election-ballots or counting all Americans for the 2020 census.  The following thoughtful poem, "Census," is not new; it was first published in 1981.  What does it show us about counting?

     Census     by Carol Muske-Dukes

     Here's how we were counted: 
     firstborn, nay-sayers, 
     veterans, slow-payers, 
     seditionists, convicts, 
     half-breeds, has-beens, 
     the nearly defined dead, 
     all the disenfranchised live.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Prove it . . .

This post's title "Prove it" occurs several times within the poem,

DREAMers Mark Themselves     by Maricielo Ampudia Gutiérrez,

a poem (found here, followed by an author bio) that arrived in a recent e-mail from the socially-engaged poetry group, Split This Rock -- and I have been reflecting on its use of the term "prove it" as compared with mathematical usage.  The poem by Gutiérrez is included in a rich poetry database maintained by Split this Rock.
     One of the editors of the online journal Better Than Starbucks, Joseph E. Petta, has let me know of his liking for poems with links to mathematics and encourages submissions.  Petta's "Experimental & Form Poetry" section of the July August 2020 issue contains a thoughtful a thoughtful matrix poem, a word-prison:

Freedom        by Stuthi Iyer

Both of these poems offer ideas for thoughtful contemplation -- for math people and for others!

Friday, July 24, 2020

A favorite recursion . . .

      memories bring back

            memories bring back

                   memories bring back  

                          memories bring back

                                 memories . . .

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Finishing halfway . . .

     Recently I have enjoyed thinking about the poem "Bunny Slope" by Polish poet Tadeusz Dabrowski (found here in The Paris Review, Issue 219, Winter 2016) and offered below.
     When I write a poem, the first draft often is the longest -- I spill words onto the page and then attempt to edit out what does not need to be said.  When I read poetry, I like it when the poem does not "tell all" but offers a framework for my discovery.

Bunny Slope      by Tadeusz Dabrowski
                                   (translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones)

     When I’m writing a poem,
     there’s less and less of it.

     As I approach the mountains,
     they vanish behind a gentle hill,
     behind the bunny slope. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Math-Arts Connections -- links to rich reading . . .

     The Table of Contents for the  latest issue of the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts offers titles for a rich array of "Artists Viewpoints" -- brief articles (assembled under the leadership of Guest Editor, Susan Happersett) in which artists who link mathematics with various genres talk about their views and processes.  (Access to these articles currently is FREE -- through 2020.)
     One of the 53 artists' viewpoints contained therein is mine, and here is a permanent link to that brief article ("Everything Connects") that links my mathematics and poetry.  Another math-poet whose work is featured is South Dakota mathematician Dan May, whose article "In the beginning all is null" features multiple-choice poetry.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Poetry contest winners --- π-ku

     The website is described as "a meeting-place for people who already know they like maths and would like to know more"  -- and one of its organizing forces is Katie Steckles Several weeks ago, Katie initiated a  π-ku poetry contest -- looking for 3-line submissions that follow the digits of the π-approximation 3.14.

          For example,      Green grass and
                                sky and sun's heat.
                                                                      In π-ku
                                                                      shrink what I think.

The numbers 3, 1, and 4 also may -- instead of counting syllables -- count words.

                  Today in July
                  pushes the temperature skyward.

To enjoy the winning results in the Aperiodical π-ku contest, go here.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A thoughtful Fibonacci poem

     An email message from Washington, DC poet and blogger Karren Alenier alerted me to this mathy Fibonacci poem found online in the Summer 2020 Issue (#36) of The Fib Review.  The poet., Roberto Christiano, has given me permission to offer it to you here.

the irrational   by Roberto Christiano

c'est moi?
a number that
cannot be expressed by the
ratio of two integers / and what's an integer?  

Monday, July 13, 2020

Math-Poetry for a virtual BRIDGES Conference

     Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year's 2020 Bridges Math-Arts Conference will not be held.  One of the regular events at this international conference has been a poetry reading organized by mathematician and poet Sarah Glaz.  This year, Glaz has prodded math-poets to develop on-line videos of their poems and offers a wonderful program of poetry here at this link.  (Brief poet-bios and links to more info about each are also found at the preceding link.)

Participating poets, with links to their poetry videos are
Thank you, Sarah Glaz, for organizing and presenting all of this poetry!
We look forward to the forthcoming BRIDGES 2020 Poetry Anthology

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Wonderful math-poetry . . . in lots of online places

      Carol Dorf, poetry editor of the online journal, TalkingWriting, has been sharing (during the pandemic) daily poems via e-mail -- and occasionally they are a bit mathematical.  For example, "Morning Song" by Sawako Nakayasu (found here at has this opening line . . . .

     Every time, these days, it seems, an equation gets forced.  . . .

At, as at many poetry websites, there is an opportunity to search -- using, for example, "geometry" or "equation" -- and to find lots of poems with mathematical connections.

     Carol Dorf is a retired math teacher and a wonderful poet;  this link leads to poems from her published in this blog and this link leads to "Wild Equations,"   a collection of some the mathy poems found in TalkingWriting.

     An ongoing source of original and delightful math-poetry is the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.  Visit often and explore! 

AND, one more item . . .  Recently I revisited Issue 17 (Released November 1, 1917)  of The Cordite Poetry Review which has the theme "Mathematics."  That issue is online here.  Many of the poems seem at first quite distant from the theme -- but browsing the collection of 60 poems (selected by Fiona Hile) has proved thought-provoking.  Here is a sample, "Venn Diagram" by Caroline Williamson.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Life Lessons in Math and Rhyme

     One of my former colleagues at Pennsylvania's Bloomsburg University is statistician Reza Noubary.  This Iran-born mathematician has a love of poetry as well as mathematics and here are a few lines from his recent collection, Feelings and Dealings (Archway Publishing, 2020).

                    In a math book there is wisdom.
                    In a theorem there is a kingdom.
                    No solution can be made up or faked.
                    The reasoning buys you freedom.

There is a secret in every equation that provokes curiosity and passion.
To uncover it we need to see its beauty and realize
its worth to complete the mission.
The outcome is refreshing; it always results in long-term compassion.
It is satisfying as participants understand its
logic and its beautiful expression.

Thank you, Reza, for these words.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Independence . . .

     Tomorrow, July 4, the US celebrates "Independence" Day and I am reflecting on the following quote by Albert Einstein (1879-1955):

     How can it be that mathematics
     being after all a product of human thought 
          . . . independent of experience, 
     is so admirably appropriate
     to the objects of reality?
(found here, along with lots of Einstein quotes) 
I am trying to decide to what degree I agree with Einstein's words.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Opening our minds to New Views . . .

     One of the values of study of mathematics is that to make progress we must continually revise our ways of looking at things. (Yes, there can be numbers less than zero . . . Yes, there can be different sizes for infinite sets . . . And a challenge for our society today is to carefully reconsider our racism.   Recently the American Mathematical Society's Blog On Math Blogs has offered this thoughtful posting, "What does anti-racism in mathematics look like?"  
     From visual poet Karl Kempton (who celebrates a birthday today) I offer a visual-poetry reminder of multiple ways of viewing a situation -- illustrated by two views of dividing the number 8.

For more ways of looking at 8 and other mathematical poems by Kempton, go here.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Considering opposites . . . and finding union . . .

     The categorization of different points of view as opposites can disappear as a unified system embraces both of them.  In mathematics, the counting numbers and their opposites become the integers,the rational and irrational numbers join to give the reals, the real and imaginary numbers yield the complex numbers.  In our global world with its biases and dangers and uncertainties, we will, I hope, evaluate our differences and unite our strengths to form a larger, stronger unity.
     A syllable-square poem by Carmela Martino (offered below) illustrates one of the unifications that can benefit our society: inclusion of the arts to enrich the sciences, from STEM forming STEAM.

Carmela Martino's poem first appeared here at TeachingAuthors.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Math-poetry in The Mathematical Intelligencer

     In a recent e-mail, this message:  "The Mathematical Intelligencer. Vol. 42 No. 2 is now available online."  Most Intelligencer articles require a subscription or a fee-payment but one that is freely available to all of us is the poem, "Pandemic Math:  X and Y Axes" by Wisconsin painter and poet Robin Chapman.  Here are its opening lines:

          I'm thinking of those graphs we anxiously scan each day
          carry news of infection's spread, asking if we
          will find death stalking our neighborhoods . . .

Chapman's complete poem is available here.  

Monday, June 22, 2020

Counting on ... and on ... BLACK LIVES MATTER!

     In these days of learning to recognize the racism and racial injustice that has gone on in the United States for SO LONG I am reminded of a poem, "Learning to Count" by Romanian poet Nichita Stanescu (1933-1983) (posted at this link back in 2011), a poem that captures the horror of barbarianism.

     Learning to count     by Nichita Stanescu                   
     Hairy and sweaty sit                            
     the barbarian Hittites.       
     Learning to count they pull from corpses
     fingers, legs, arms, eyes.                                    
     Oh, divided ones,    
     how bloody              
     is the idea of having ideas!  

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Priciples of Accounting -- in verse!

      Quarantining has turned poetry readings into Zoom events -- and that brought Pennsylvania poet Barbara Crooker to my computer a couple of weeks ago via a reading sponsored by The Word Works..  A delight for me to reconnect with someone whom I knew from my years in Bloomsburg.  Barbara -- who is a very fine poet one whose work has often appeared on The Writer's Almanac  -- has given me permission to share the following mathy poem (found in her collection, Some Glad Morning, Pitt Poetry Series, 2019).

      Principles of Accounting      by Barbara Crooker

     Nearly summer, and the trees are banking on green,
     calculating their bonuses in numerators of leaves.
     Outside my window, the crows are ganging up
     on someone, thugs in their hoodies of night.
     I'm feeling the number of days begin to feel finite,
     no longer uncountable as blades of grass. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Everybody counts -- Axioms for diversity

Found here in the 2016 Notices of the American Mathematical Society --
these words that are mathematical, poetic AND important!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Unconscious(?) bias

       Wherever she goes
       there is mathematics --
       but THEY don't call
       her a mathematician . . .  
       is a girl
       or a woman,
       a teacher,
       a student 
                    or perhaps
       a scholar,
       an aspiring poet . . .

Monday, June 8, 2020

Learning from Copernicus

     These days are challenging ones -- HOW can we live safely?  How can we live morally? How can we learn that none of us is the center of the universe?
     Today, read the poetic words of Paul Tran and consider these questions.

     Copernicus   by Paul Tran (from The New Yorker, link below)

     Who doesn’t know how
     doubt lifts the hem of its nightgown

     to reveal another inch of thigh
     before the face of faith?

     I once didn’t. I once thought I was
     my own geometry,
     my own geocentric planet

Friday, June 5, 2020

Does nothing exist?

     From Montreal mathematician, poet, and artist Alex Ionut, this highly imaginative poem, "The Empty Set Exists."  -- a poem stimulated by his study of the Euler spiral (clothoid) and a 3-D version that he calls "the spherical clothoid."  

       The empty set exists   by Alexandru Ionut

       To see her would be like touching death
       It's axiomatic, the foundation of any metric
       You love her because she's her

       Double entendre across the stanza
       But her hair, only spirals

       My love for her, pure vector
       Imaginary, hypercomplex
       Unmixed evil, I bow to Lord Kelvin
       Maxwell's demon, my Hamiltonian angel  

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Women in Theory -- Math to Give

     The June, 2020 Conference of Women in Theory (of Computer Science) has been postponed to next year.  But these energetic mathy women got together virtually and performed a song.  I offer below the opening stanzas;  for the performance and complete lyrics, follow this link to YouTube.

      I Will Survive   (lyrics by Avi Wigderson (Princeton, IAS)

      At first I was afraid, I was petrified
      I worried I could never fit this proof on just one slide
      But then I spent so many nights 

                     thinking why it is so long
      And I grew strong
      And learned exactly what went wrong

      A problem wor-thy, of attack
      Just proves its worth by vigorously fighting back
      I should have used error correction, 

                     should have sampled yet again
      I should have stayed the course 

                     and found there is so much that I can gain
          . . .
For the YouTube version (with lyrics) of the complete song (8 stanzas), go here.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Which permutation of lines yields the best poem?

     A fascinating article about poet Jericho Brown (by Allison Glock in Garden and Gun magazine) reminded me of the vital role of line-arrangement in creating a poem.  (Emory University professor Brown has won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for his collection The Tradition  (Copper Canyon Press, 2019)).
      Glock's article, "Jericho Rising," tells of various factors that have influenced Brown's poetry and describes his process of arranging lines, typed on separate strips of paper, into poems.  Three of the lines shown in the article are:

       What is the history of the wound? 
  We'll never see their faces or know their names.      
       And a grief so thick you could touch it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


     A mathy poem that I have learned about from Carol Dorf (poet and retired math teacher and poetry editor at is "The Story of Mathematics" by poet and teacher Sarah Dickenson Snyder.  Offered below, "The Story of Mathematics" first appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of 300 Days of Sun -- it is a poem for which I have needed (and enjoyed) the challenge of several re-readings, both silent and aloud, to take it in.

     The Story of Mathematics    by Sarah Dickenson Snyder

     ​It starts with a shell –
     its curve and shine,

     the way a line peaks.
     It starts with a star

     and the arc
     between bone and light.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Counting . . . and more counting . . .

     Poet and retired math teacher and poetry editor ( Carol Dorf has been staying connected during the covid-19 pandemic by sharing poems.  Many of her emailed shares are works I know, but the item below came as new -- a mathy poem by David Ignatow (1914-1997) from his collection Against the Evidence: Selected Poems 1934-1994. (Wesleyan University Press, 1993).  Consider, with Ignatow, what is finite?  what is countable?

Information     by David Ignatow  

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Links to mathy poems . . .

     The Annual Bridges Math-Arts Conference will not be meeting this year but mathematician Sarah Glaz has arranged for lots of math-poetic activity online -- go here and scroll down for links to poetry-presentations that she has arranged.  
     Glaz has gathered a Bridges 2020 Poetry Anthology (not yet published) that contains five of my mathy poems.  I read aloud two of them -- 

"Love Mathematics" and "A Baker's Dozen" -- here on YouTube 

Thanks to my neighbor, Mark Willey, for help with the YouTube recording!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Doubling and redoubling . ..

     The mathematics of repeated doubling and concerns about COVID-19 have led Virginia dentist and poet Eric Forsbergh to write "A Fable" (offered below): 

     Fable     by Eric Forsbergh

     A child seeks the raja out.

     A grain of rice is held out on the child’s fingertip.
     The child seeks to live, someday to reproduce.

     “I ask this. One grain doubled,
     doubled again, on a chessboard every square.”
     The raja’s not alarmed.
     He sends a soldier out to get a loaded scoop.
     “Maybe a small pail.” he calls out as an afterthought.

Friday, May 15, 2020

A rhyme about a prime

     Tomorrow, May 16, is the birthday of Pafnuty Chebyshev (1821-1894), who was one of the founders of Russian mathematics and the first to prove (in 1850) a conjecture (about positive integers) made in 1845 by French mathematician Joseph Bertrand (1822-1900) and sometimes referred to as Bertrand's postulate.  This rhyming couplet celebrates that conjecture:

               Chebyshev said, and I'll say it again:
               There's always a prime between n and 2n.

Thanks to Evelyn Lamb's AMS Page-A-Day Calendar for its May 10 alert to the info above.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

What would I do without NUMBERS?

     Sometimes familiar things that are very important are taken for granted.  Many of us do that with numbers . . . California poet and artist Mary Fabilli (1914-2011) considered their importance in the following thoughtful poem:

     Numbers     by Mary Fabilli

     What would I do
     without numbers?
     A 7 there and a 3 here,
     days in a month
     months in a year
     AD and BC
     and all such symbols

     the track of time

Monday, May 11, 2020

Geometry of a Shadow

     This morning while exercising I listened to an old CD that had been stored with materials I used when involved with the The Children's Museum (in Bloomsburg, PA).  The recording included selections from A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) and as I listened to "My Shadow" I connected it with my blog -- a poem of geometry and mappings.  Here it is; enjoy!

     My Shadow    by Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)
     I HAVE a little shadow that goes in and out with me,   
     And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.   
     He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;   
     And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed. 

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Squaring the circle . . . or not . . .

     Start with a CIRCLE -- is it possible, using only a straightedge and compass, to construct a SQUARE with the same area as the starting circle?  This problem, posed by ancient geometers, was long believed to be impossible, but not proven so until 1882 when Ferdinand von Lindemann proved that π is transcendental.
     Freelance editor and math-geek Sam Hartburn offers at her website a fun-to-read poem on this topic.  The first stanza is offered below, followed by a link to the full poem text -- and a recording. 

 (not) Squaring the Circle     by Sam Hartburn

          So I had this circle, but I wanted a square
          Don’t ask why, that’s my affair
          The crucial aspect of this little game
          Is that the area should stay the same
          Ruler and compass are the tools to use
          It’s been proven impossible, but that’s no excuse
          Many have tried it, but hey, I’m me
          I’m bound to find something that they couldn’t see

          So, here we go

                . . .
Hartburn's complete poem (and recording) may be found here.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Remembering Eavan Boland, Grace Hopper

     Irish poet Eavan Boland (1944-2020) died last week and news of her death has caused me to look back and remember.  In this year in which the US celebrates 100 years of women's suffrage, I am reminded of this poem in the Irish Times in which Boland celebrated 100 years of Irish women's suffrage, a poem entitled "Our future will become the past of other women."  Here is a brief excerpt from that poem:
                         A hundred years ago a woman’s vote
                         Becoming law became the right
                         Of Irish women. We remember them
                         As we celebrate this freedom.

One of my favorite of Boland's poems is her tribute to another master of language, Grace Murray Hopper (1906-1988) -- Hopper was a computer pioneer and a navy rear admiral.  Here is the opening stanza of Boland's poem:

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Poetry and Math -- online audio -- 2020 census, etc

     Today (with poems in our pockets) we celebrate the final day of National Poetry Month and National Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month and I offer to you two math-poetry links to browse and enjoy.
     This first link leads to an NPR Code Switch podcast that concerns the 2020 census -- "When Poets Decide Who Counts" -- and five poets-and-poems are presented in a discussion of the fairness/unfairness of the census-count.  (One of the poems, "American Arithmetic" by Natalie Diaz, has also appeared in this blog.)
     This next link leads to another podcast  -- this one entitled "What's math got to do with poetry?" and a creation of science writer Stephen Ornes, in his blog, Calculated (Thank you, Stephen, for inviting me to participate in your podcast and to read several poems.)

Monday, April 27, 2020

National Poem-in-your-Pocket Day -- April 30, 2020

     The following stanza by  award-winning children's author,  Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, (1914-2000), has led to an annual celebration in US schools of "Poem-in-your-Pocket" Day:

          Keep a poem in your pocket 
          and a picture in your head     
          and you'll never feel lonely
          at night when you're in bed.  

This year's Poem-in-your-Pocket Day will be celebrated on Thursday, April 30.  Here is a link to  "Counting and Math Rhymes" -- a website that offers a variety of choices for young people's pockets.  My own pocket -- and my mind, during these days of pandemic confusion -- will be holding lines from Carl Sandburg's "Arithmetic":

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Considering my Point of View

       Today, on Earth Day, I am listening to news of the COVID-19 pandemic and wondering how to interpret what I hear . ..  

"Do you see the center . . . " by William Elliott

Elliott's poem appears on my shelf in the math-poetry anthology,  Against Infinity, edited by Ernest Robson and Jet Wimp (Primary Press, 1979).

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Geometry of Love

     A journal that I love to browse is the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics -- and recent quarantining has been a bit like my youthful experience of being "snowed in" and thus having extra time for reading.  At the JHM site, I was drawn to this article by Robert Hass, "John Cheever's Story 'The Geometry of Love'."  Before reading Haas' analysis, I sought to read the original story -- available here (a pdf-file of its appearance in 1966 in The Saturday Evening Post).
      Short story writer John Cheever (1912-1982) and JHM author Robert Haas explore (with some humor) the question: how can Euclidean geometry help us find our ideal world of truth and happiness.  Read and enjoy!
     Since this is a math-poetry blog, I add a tiny rhyme of mine:

               The Geometry of Love

               I like the intersection line
               that your plane makes with mine.

For lots and lots more fiction-with-mathematics, visit this wonderful website maintained by Alex Kasman of the College of Charleston.  

Friday, April 17, 2020

April 22 is EARTH DAY -- Remember the TREES

Can planting billions of trees save our planet?
Trees help cleanse the air by intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat, 
and absorbing pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. 
Trees are sound barriers -- as effective as stone walls in stopping sound.

     Today this blog celebrates TREES via poetry by Australian visual artist and poet, Belinda Broughton -- her performance-poem "EDGES" has been part of an exhibition, Solastalgia at Fabrik, in Lobethal, South Australia -- and here in this video she performs the poem in front of a drawing that she created with charcoal from her recently burnt home, tragically part of Australia's recent and widespread outbreak of wildfires.  
     I include below, some of the opening and closing lines of Broughton's poem;  after these, I offer a link to the print version of the complete poem.

     Edges     by Belinda Broughton

     Who will speak for the trees? Who     will speak for the trees?
     Who will speak for the forest, for that part
     of the natural world? Because it’s all nature, let’s face it,
     even this crass world with its concrete and steel,
     its plastic paint and polluted pavements.
     It   is   nature.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Inclusion-Exclusion -- the power of the CIRCLE!

On my mind today, this poem by U.S. poet Edwin Markham (1852-1940):

          Outwitted     by Edwin Markham

          He drew a circle that shut me out--
               Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
          But Love and I had the wit to win:
               We drew a circle that took him in!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Haiku Poetry Day -- coming soon!

     My internet explorations find celebrations of Haiku Poetry Day described for both April 17 and April 18   -- my own recommendation is that you celebrate every day the beauty of language and meaning that can come when we thoughtfully limit our syllable-count.  I try to do that below.


Exponential growth:
small numbers doubling quickly--
a world upended!

Both mathematics and poetry honor concise language.  Here, from the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics is a wonderful collection  -- "Math in Seventeen Syllables:  A Folder of Mathematical Haiku," published in the January, 2018 issue.    ENJOY!  

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Celebrate the lives of MATH-WOMEN via POEMS!

     This week I have learned that a lovely presentation of my poem, "With Reason  A Portrait of Sophia Kovalevsky," has been published in the April 2020 issue of Mathematics Teacher.
 The Kovalevsky poem is available here-- 
please read and enjoy!
      I have found that POEMS about mathematicians not only can serve to celebrate those lives but also provide a meaningful way to introduce these important people into math classes.  Here are several links to previously posted poems that speak of the lives of math-women:
   Sophie Germain (1776-1831)                      Florence Nightingale  (1820-1910)
   Amalie "Emmy" Noether  (1882-1935)      Grace Murray Hopper (1906 - 1988)

Readers may find more poems about special people by scrolling through postings or by using a blog-SEARCH.  Names available for SEARCH may be found in this document.  And here is a link to a blog-SEARCH using the terms "math women". 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Uncertainty persists . . .

      In these days of coronavirus uncertainty and risk, my thoughts are drawn again and again to this couplet:

The Secret Sits     by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

     We dance round in a ring and suppose,
     But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

Lots more of Frost's words are available here.

And, as the coronavirus pandemic delays baseball season, here are additional Frost-thoughts:

     Poets are like baseball pitchers. 
     Both have their moments.  The intervals are the tough things.  

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Woman Who Bested the Men at Math

     An American Mathematical Society Page-a-Day Mathematics calendar, compiled by mathematician and free-lance writer Evelyn Lamb, has let me know today that tomorrow, April 4, marks the birthday of mathematician Philippa Garrett Fawcett (1868-1948), who became, "in 1890, the first woman to score the highest mark of all the candidates for the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge University." 
     Learn more about Philippa Fawcett at this website, "Biographies of Women Mathematicians,: --  maintained by Emeritus Professor Larry Riddle at Agnes Scott College.  Riddle's biographic sketch of Fawcett includes a poem of anonymous origin that celebrates her 1890 achievement.  Here are its opening stanzas:

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Math Poettary -- continuous, but not differentiable

     A few weeks ago I was introduced via email to Gauarav Bhatnagar, a mathematician now at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India.  In addition to varied and deep mathematical and educational interests, Bhatnagar likes to play with words; here are a couple examples of his poetic wordplay -- or, as he calls it, poettary.

        Continuous function     by Gaurav Bhatnagar

        A continuous function,
        draw it without
        picking up pencil
        from paper.

        At all points,
        the left hand limit 

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

She should have been on the Math Team

     National Poetry Month starts tomorrow and I hope that poetry can be a thoughtful focus for you in this time of crisis and confinement due to the coronavirus.  Join me in looking back to several previous posts of work by one of my favorite poets, Audre Lorde (1934-1992).

     "Hanging Fire"    about a girl who should have been on the Math Team
               "The Art of Response"
                         "Smelling the Wind

Lorde's collection, The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance, may be found and browsed here.
For lots more poems about math-girls-and-women, go here.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Mathematics...underlies everything...said the poet

     I first met scientist-poet Mary Peelen via an 2019 interview of her by mathematician-poet Gizem Karaali in The Adroit Journal .  The conversation includes an introduction to Peelen's poetry collection, Quantum Heresies (Glass Lyre Press, 2019) in which she discusses her intent "to show how mathematics and physics underlie everything in my life . . ." Read more here.

       NUMBER THEORY     by Mary Peelen

       Forty one apples in the tree,
       red and round,

       praise awaiting gravity,
       wholly free of abstraction.

       When it comes to the primes
       and matters of religion,

       I defer to Pythagoras,
       his ancient cult and authority. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

SUNSET poem -- guided by a Fano diagram

Warning:  even if you are not a mathy person, you will like the poem offered below!
     When a writer picks up her pen and starts to write, the initial phrases may be simply a ramble -- a pouring out of thoughts that might be able to be shaped into a poem.  Over the centuries, writers have used syllable-counts and patterns of rhyme to help them shape their word into the best-possible expressions.
     Earlier in this blog (in this 2016 posting) is a poem created by Black Hills State University mathematician Daniel May using a geometric structure called a Fano Plane.  I offer below another similarly-structured creation by May -- and, after the poem, a bit of explanation.
Fano Plane diagram

Sunset : October 11th      by Daniel May

it's late in the day and we’ve climbed up this rise.
i stare, too closely, into the
leaving of the light streaming through the treetops 
          from the next ridge over.

later, i'll wonder if looking into the sun makes me crazy,
or gives me secret terrible knowledge.
my last willful act will be staring directly into our star, 
          and it will be like burial at sun.