Monday, October 3, 2022

Women in Mathematics -- Netherlands

      Below I offer a poetic quote from Marta Pieropan -- a faculty member at Utrecht University and a member of a European Women in Mathematics -- the Netherlands (EWM-NL), an activist organization supporting math-women.  They are involved, for example, in a Wikipedia Project and have developed a poster that celebrates math-women (and is available in several different languages, including English).


Thank you, Marta Pieropan, for your poetic words (which I found here).

P.S.  Let us all remember that Tuesday, October 11, 2022 is this year's Ada Lovelace DayIf you'd like to browse, here is a link to previous mentions of Ada Lovelace in this blog.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Is a poem like a theorem?

     Recently I have been musing over the question, "Is a poem like a theorem?"  Enriching my thinking has been a poem by Canadian-American poet Mark Strand (1934-2014), "The New Poetry Handbook."   I enjoyed the thought-stimulation that Strand's poem gave me and, as I read and reread, I explored changing the gender AND replacing "poem" by "theorem.  Not always perfectly sensible BUT thought-provoking!

Strand's complete poem of 21 stanzas is available at this link.   

Monday, September 26, 2022

Some students regret their major

      An article by Andrew Van Dam in the Washington POST earlier this month (available at this link) asserts that nearly 2 in 5 American college graduates regret their choice of major . . .  many humanities majors wish they had focused more on STEM subjects while engineering majors were the group most fully satisfied.  The article has made me think back to my own college days when it was the availability of scholarships rather than love of the sciences that led me there.

From Washington POST "Department of Data" (at this link)
     My own view is that education in several fields is far more enriching than focus in a single field -- that the humanities or social science major who wishes she had studied calculus and non-Euclidean geometry and then goes on to do that brings better preparation to her later field of study.  She has knowledge and perspectives to enrich her study of mathematics!

     Consideration of study preferences has led my thoughts to an interesting pair of poems by Duke University Professor Henry Petroski -- poems found in the 1979 anthology of mathematical poetry, Against Infinity (Primary Press, 1979, Edited by Ernest Robson & Jet Wimp).  

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Math-Poetry Recordings on YouTube

     The arrival in 2020 of COVID caused a huge number of gatherings to take place online -- including mathematics conferences and poetry readings- -- and performances at many of these special events have been recorded on YouTube.  I offer below a few links to recordings and to further information.  Recording myself reading poems would probably not been one of my chosen activities but mathematician-poet Sarah Glaz, who has been an enthusiastic organizer of poetry events for the BRIDGES Math-Arts Conferences, has requested recorded samples from each participating poet.

     One way to start YouTube math-poetry explorations is to go to this link -- a link I found by searching for "poetry math" on YouTube.  In this blog, we have mentioned YouTube a bit in the past -- and the blog's SEARCH feature finds this list of previous postings that feature YouTube links.

Monday, September 19, 2022

Arts-based Math Education -- Meet one of the Stars

     Through BRIDGES Math-Arts Conferences I have become acquainted with the versatile Canadian scholar, Susan Gerofsky -- and I introduce you to her varied achievements with this biographical sketch.

Susan Gerofsky is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Education and Environmental Education at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Her interdisciplinary research in curriculum studies is in embodied mathematics education through the arts, movement, gesture and voice, and she is a regular contributor to Bridges Math and Art. She is active as a poet, playwright, musician and filmmaker, and works with dance and fibre arts. You'll often find her cycling around town with a baritone horn or an accordion.

Gerofsky has introduced me to the use of combinatorial patterns in bell-ringing in the structure of poems.  Here, for example, is her "Desert Poem" -- based on the pattern "Plain Hunt on Four" or PH4.

Friday, September 16, 2022

Math Poetry Contest for Massachusetts Students

      Middle school, high school and college students in Massachusetts are invited to submit MATH POETRY in a contest sponsored by the American Mathematical Society.  The submission deadline is November 11 -- and lots of background information and  details for submission are offered at this link.

  A pattern of yearly contests has been interrupted by COVID -- however, looking back, I find two of the winning poems in the 2020 contest posted here, and a poster of winners for the 2019 contest is shown at this link.

Monday, September 12, 2022

The Poetry of Mathematician George Boole

      One of the interesting poetry collections on my shelves is The Poetry of George Boole by Desmond MacHale (Logic Press, Ireland, 2020 -- and published in the USA for Logic Press by  This is not simply a poetry collection -- but poetry with commentary.  MacHale includes more than seventy surviving poems by the Irish mathematician Boole (1815-1864) -- and he also discusses Boole's views of the connections between Science and the Arts with an initial chapter is entitled "Poetry and Mathematics."  

     It is quite appropriate that Boole should relate poetry to mathematics since he was, primarily, a mathematician; his Boolean algebra is basic to the design of digital computer circuits)   Boole's own poetry, however, found most of its inspiration outside of math.  Here is his Sonnet 20 (Sonnet to the Number Three); written in May 1846 and suggesting that belief in the religious Trinity is connected with our interpretation of space in three dimensions.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Enriching Poetry with Mathematical Ideas

     An important leader in the community of writers who link mathematics and poetry is Sarah Glaz -- a scholar who is not only a mathematician and poet but also an organizer, participant, publicist, and recorder for numerous math-poetry events.  Glaz is an emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of Connecticut and her UConn webpage is a vast source of mathematical and poetry treasures.

     I first came to know Sarah well as we worked together on an important project -- gathering poems for the anthology Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (A K Peters / CRC Press, 2008).  A preview of this collection is available here.   Here, from that collection, is one of my favorites -- a thoughtful poem about parenting and attitudes (love? or not?) toward mathematics:

Love Story     by Sarah Glaz

       If I ever write about you--
       he said--
       it will be a love story
       a story about
       how much you want to be loved.

       Father, do you love
       your little girl?
       I brought you
       a soup full
       of numbers
       formulas chopped to perfection
       integrals fried to a crisp 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

From a poetic artist -- "New Math"

     Neha Misra, one of my neighbors (in Eastern Village cohousing in Silver Spring, Maryland) is both a poet and a visual artist; in a recent conversation, I asked Neha if she had any mathy poems -- and she  volunteered the following lines-- full of rich mathematical terminology paired with multiple -- and thoughtful --  meanings.  Thank you, Neha!

New Math        by Neha Misra
Because I once scored 49 out of 50
in a Mathematical Physics exam
that I was so proud of, still am.
I do not remember much of
signs of sines and cosines.
I remember the differential equations
were all fine, but I was in love
with the curves of integration—
Because I once taught a scared young boy
in the confident body of a man
to not let his exponential fear of math
come in the way of his waking dreams
of flying with numbers.
Paper and pen in our hands,
together we melted his fear of math
into the heart of zero
and he flew     
far   far           far             away from me
on the infinite new wings of those numbers—  

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Dangerous Surprises of Exponential Growth

      In 1968, while I was in graduate school at the University of Oklahoma, the journal Science published "The Tragedy of the Commons" by Garrett Hardin.  Hardin's article describes a situation in which shared resources are overused and exploited -- leading to depletion of resources for the future.  In recent years there has been much criticism of Hardin's essay (and criticism of Hardin) -- but for me it served as a wake-up call to concerns about the environment.  With environmental difficulties growing exponentially -- and with many of us not fully aware of the growing rapidity of exponential growth, I have posed to students this problem:

An 8x8 syllable-square

We may be close to the end before we realize it . . .

Monday, August 29, 2022

Mathematics -- not isolated STARS but COMMUNITY

     In his 1940 book-length essay, A Mathematician's Apology, eminent British mathematician G. H Hardy minimizes the importance of those who communicate mathematics to those outside the research community   ... the book's opening paragraph is show below . . . it concludes with "Exposition, criticism, appreciation. is work for second rate minds."

The complete essay is available online here

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Remembering Life on the Farm

      I grew up on a farm in western Pennsylvania -- and I think that farm life (at least as my father practiced it) was a strong introduction to mathematics.  Counting, calculating, predicting -- and, most of all, problem-solving -- prepared me for studies and for a complex world.  Today is the anniversary of my parents' marriage -- on August 24, 1939 -- and an important occasion for looking back!

     Last weekend I visited the farm (Meadow Lane Farm, now a golf course) and my rememberings drew me to this years-ago poem (previously posted here)

"Things to Count On" was included in my chapbook collection, My Dance is Mathematics  -- now out of print but available online here.   AND here is link to the results of a blog search for farm.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Celebrate poet Rita Dove

      In the KIDSPOST section of this morning's Washington Post I learned that next Sunday, August 28, is the birthday of poet Rita Dove (b. 1952) and Saturday, August 27 is the birthday of mathematician Giuseppe Peano (1858-1932).  Dove (who served as US Poet Laureate 1993-95) is author of one of my favorite mathy poems -- a poem about the EXCITEMENT of learning mathematics -- and I offer it below: 

from The Yellow House on The Corner (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1980)

     Work by Rita Dove has also appeared in earlier postings in this blog.  This link leads to the results of a blog-search using her name.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

HER Math Story

    Her Math Story” is a platform of three women mathematicians (Julia Kroos, Tamara Grossmann and Joana Grah) who want to empower young women through “stories and blog entries to pursue studies and careers in maths, spark their curiosity and transmit enthusiasm for technical subjects”, as described on their website.  The first outcome of their collaboration with “Her Math Story” (HMS) is this interview with Professor Shanti Venetiaan

I learned the information above from the European Women in Mathematics – The Netherlands (EWM-NL) website where I also found this poetic quote by mathematician Marta Pieropan:

          Proving a theorem gives me the same satisfaction
          as laying the last tile of a jigsaw puzzle
          that finally reveals the whole picture
          and highlights the relations
          between the various parts.          

Find some time . . . visit the EWM website . . . read . . . and reflect!

Monday, August 15, 2022

Do more to fight injustice!

     In this 5 x 3 syllable-rectangle we have an important and poetic reminder from Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968); let us remember and act on his words:

                  is a threat
                  to justice

 I have a dream . . .

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Journal of Humanistic Mathematics -- latest issue

     Every six months a wonderful treasure appears in my email-box -- an announcement, with links, to the latest issue of the Journal of Humanistic MathematicsHere is a link to the Table of Contents for this latest (July 2022) issue.

     Gathered and edited by Mark Huber (Claremont McKenna College) and Gizem Karaali (Pomona College) this open access journal contains a variety of articles and fiction and poetry.  With topics such as "Math in the Time of COVID" and "A Report about a Speaker Series Connecting Mathematics and Religion," the journal offers both depth and variety as its contents explore the humanistic aspects of mathematics.  Following more than twenty articles, we come to these poems:

Monday, August 8, 2022

BRIDGES Conference 2022 -- Math-Poetry

      A couple of months ago (here in my June 8 posting) I offered a link to information about poetry to be offered at the 2022 Bridges Math-Arts Conference -- held last week in Finland.  This link leads to a series of YouTube recordings of Bridges mathy poems and this link (at the website of organizer Sarah Glaz) offers written information about Bridges poets as well as sample poems.  Visit, read and listen, learn, enjoy!

     One of my poems that is included on the Bridges poetry site is entitled "Three-fold Asylum" -- a poem that explores various roles of the number three.  I offer it below:

     Three-fold Asylum     by JoAnne Growney

     Third door left on level three, my room
     holds steel furniture—its items three:
     double platform bed (for dreamless sleep),

     square corner desk with three-castered chair
     that spins, loops, and glides from the barred door
     to the dark window that sees nowhere.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Looking back to an old poem -- "Expectations"

      Years ago I wrote this poem -- recently I have rediscovered it and, once again, pondered the role of time in my life.  Here, from the 1980's is "Expectations" -- a poem that appears in my collection, Intersections (Kadet Press, 1993).

     Expectations     by JoAnne Growney

          Don't let mathematics
          teach you to expect two
          to be more than one.

          It's sad but true that two
          can get too near,
          can interfere,
          can reduce each other
          to less than one,
          to less than half.    

Monday, July 25, 2022

Einstein Defining Special Relativity

     Today I share a poem by poet A. Van Jordan that takes math-science terminology and mixes it into personal situations -- and offers varied ideas to consider.  Born in Ohio, Van Jordan became interested in poetry while studying for a masters degree at Howard University and attending readings in Washington, DC.  

Einstein Defining Special Relativity     by A. Van Jordan

INSERT SHOT: Einstein’s notebook 1905—DAY 1: a theory that is based on two postulates (a) that the speed of light in all inertial frames is constant, independent of the source or observer. As in, the speed of light emitted from the truth is the same as that of a lie coming from the lamp of a face aglow with trust, and (b) the laws of physics are not changed in all inertial systems, which leads to the equivalence of mass and energy and of change in mass, dimension, and time; with increased velocity, space is compressed in the direction of the motion and time slows down. As when I look at Mileva, it’s as if I’ve been in a space ship traveling as close to the speed of light as possible, and when I return, years later, I’m younger than when I began the journey, but she’s grown older, less patient. Even a small amount of mass can be converted into enormous amounts of energy: I’ll whisper her name in her ear, and the blood flows like a mallet running across vibes. But another woman shoots me a flirting glance, and what was inseparable is now cleaved in two.

The poem above was found here at along with other samples of Van Jordan's work.  His poem "Quantum Lyrics" was included in this blog (at this link) back in February 2019.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Worried about Climate Change

     When working with students in poetry workshops I often ask them to write to satisfy a constraint -- perhaps a Fib or a square poem -- in order to help them focus their thoughts.  This morning -- in the middle of a heat wave -- I focused my thoughts squarely on my growing concerns about climate.

       Steamy weather.  I count
       the degrees.  I count on
       air conditioning.  But
       my cooling system adds
       to global warming.  What
       is the right thing to do?

 Here is a link to previous postings in this blog that offer climate concerns.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Amelia Earhart -- a brave and pioneering woman!

      Growing up on a farm in Western Pennsylvania, one of my heroes was Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) -- a brave and talented female who died too soon.  Fearlessly Earhart broke barriers for all women and my admiration for her led to the following poem (which is a tiny bit mathy -- since it contains several numbers).  The 125th anniversary of Earhart's birth occurs soon -- on July 24, 2022 -- and lots of years ago after reading about her life I wrote these lines to celebrate my appreciation for this remarkable woman.

Lost Star     by JoAnne Growney

Somewhere in Kansas,
seven years old,
belly slamming on ice --
a close call.

Set for collision
with a horse and cart,
that girl put down her head
and slid between the horse's legs.   

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Poems with multiple choices of what to read . . .

      When you pick up something to read -- a newspaper article, instructions for a new appliance, or a poem, or whatever  -- in what order do you read it?  For many of us, reading is not a beginning-to-end process but a jumping around in which we survey the scope of what's to be read, look for internal highlights, focus on particular terms, etc.  A fascinating exploration of multiple ways of reading a particular poem is a treasure I have found in a blog that I visit often, Poetry and Mathematics by Marian Christie.

      Born in Zimbabwe and now living in the UK, mathy poet Marian Christie offers a delightful and informative blog that thoughtfully explores various ways in which the arts of mathematics and poetry are linked.  In this January, 2022 blog posting Christie examines what she calls a "multiple choice" poem -- that is a poem that offers multiple ways of reading what the page presents. The poem she considers is one written in 1597 by Henry Lok in honor of Elizabeth I; below I offer a diagram of that poem, copied from Christie's blog.

Monday, July 11, 2022

CoronaVirus Fibs

     The threats of the coronavirus seem less now, but are not gone.  And, as I go through files, I have found these Fibs -- expressing concerns from worried days.

Lots of previous blog postings with Fibs can be found at this link.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Poetry and the Fields Medal

     It has been exciting to learn that a woman -- Maryna Viazovska of Ukraine -- has won a Fields Medal (often called "the Nobel prize of mathematics"); Viazovska is one of four persons who have been recognized (announced on June 5) for her outstanding contributions to mathematics.  Fields medals were first awarded in 1936 and are awarded every four years to up to four mathematicians under the age of forty.  The only other female mathematician who has received this award was Maryam Mirzakhani in 2014.

One of my syllable-squares

     Also of much interest to me concerning this year's Fields Medal winners is that one of them, June Huh, was in high school interested in becoming a poet -- and dropped out of school to pursue that goal.  Later, however, in his university years, Huh began to see his future in mathematics.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Still Life with Mathematics

   The title of this blog post, "Still Life with Mathematics" is also the title of a mixed media artwork by Pacific Lutheran University math professor Jessica Sklar and displayed in Mathematical Art Galleries for the 2022 Joint Mathematics Meetings.  Included in the art (which Sklar describes as a tribute to her dissertation advisor and to mathematics) is Sklar's poem, "Disciple" -- first published here in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics in 2017 and offered below;  Sklar describes it as "a love poem for mathematics."

     Disciple     by Jessica K. Sklar

     And when they ask why I love you,
     I divulge: in your universe,
     normality is special, naturality
     is contrived, fields can be infinite
     and singularities are as commonplace
     as odd primes.    

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Learning from Poetry -- "The Courtesy of the Blind"

      Can difficulty with understanding mathematics be compared with physical blindness -- a difficulty that is biological rather than chosen?  This is a question that has come to my mind as a reaction to Wislawa Szymborska's poem (offered below) "The Courtesy of the Blind."  This Szymborska poem is part of a wonderful online collections of poetry, Poetry 180, a poem for each day of the 180-day public school year.  

Poem 119: The Courtesy of the Blind     by Wislawa Szymborska

Polish poet Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012)
was the 1996 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature
and the author of over 20 volumes of poetry.

     The poet reads his lines to the blind.
     He hadn’t guessed that it would be so hard.
     His voice trembles.
     His hands shake.

     He senses that every sentence
     is put to the test of darkness.
     He must muddle through alone,
     without colors or lights.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Remembering Alan Turing

      A posting from Mathigon on Twitter reminded me that today is the birthday of pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing (1912-1954); a bio of Turing may be found here at MathigonThis link leads to several poems that celebrate Turing . . .

           Do machines think?

                    Do we?

More about Turing's life and career may be found here.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Mathy Poems on YouTube

      In a recent posting -- 6/08/2022 -- I tell of mathematician-poet Sarah Glaz and link to her website that has a collection of links to works by various mathy poets that have participated in BRIDGES math-arts conferences.  Glaz not only offers connections to poet-information, she also offers links to YouTube recordings of poems -- and recently, to supply her with that, I worked with my granddaughter, Serena Growney, who has just finished her freshman year at high school and knows a lot more about using YouTube than I do.  Here's a link to our Growney-Growney YouTube collaboration(I had intended for Serena to focus on the book cover and not to catch my elbow, etc, in the background -- but perhaps all of that makes it more interesting.)  For viewers who like to see the text of a poem as well as to hear it, here is a link to a blog posting of "Things to Count On" -- and below I offer the text of the poem (a very new one), "A Tragic Mathematical Romance."

A Tragic Mathematical Romance        by JoAnne Growney

     Abscissa, my darling, what is the
     basis for your discontent?  When I
     calculate the
     distance between us, I
     even have trouble seeing it as
     finite – its growth has a steep
     graph, climbing out of my

Friday, June 17, 2022

Word-Play with Mathematics -- On-Stage

      One of the rewards from time spent with mathematics or from time spent with poetry is the array of multiple meanings that we find . . . usually not all-at-once but accumulating.  A master of word-play with mathematical terms and ideas is Mathematics Professor Colin Adams of Williams College.  Each time I attend the annual Joint Mathematics Meetings I look on the schedule for Mathematically Bent Theater -- with a presentation by Adams and the Mobiusbandaid Players. Here is a link to an interview with Adams; and here on YouTube are videos of some of the mathy presentations; EXPLORE and ENJOY!

To add a bit of poetry to this post, I offer below a photo of a visual poem by scientist and writer Bern Porter, found in the anthology Against Infinity.

"Formula" -- by Bern Porter

Against Infinity is an anthology of mathy poems edited by Ernest Robson and Jet Wimp and published by Primary Press in 1979 -- now out of print but available at used-book websites.  Here is a link to other selections from Against Infinity in earlier postings in this blog.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The Windmill Proof

      From Alice Major, Canadian poet and first Poet Laureate of the city of Edmonton, Alberta, I learned of Welsh computer science professor emeritus Stephen Payne's new poetry collection, The Windmill Proof.   Here is a sample poem by Payne which appears on the book's back cover. 

Learn more here about Stephen Payne; The Windmill Proof was published by HappenStance Press -- and is available for purchase at this linkHere is a link to a review by Mat Riches and this link leads to a review by Adele Ward;  both reviews contains samples of mathy poems.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Many, many mathy poems -- THANK YOU, Sarah Glaz

      Sarah Glaz, mathematics professor emerita at the University of Connecticut, is also a poet.  AND, not only a poet but a coordinator of math-poetry activities for the annual BRIDGES Math-Arts conferenceThis year's conference will be held in Finland, August 1-5, 2022This link leads to Glaz' announcement of the poetry program at BRIDGES 2022 -- and includes bios and sample poems by poets who plan to attend the conference AND also includes samples of work from some of us poets who have been part of BRIDGES in the past but will be unable to attend this year.  Below are the opening lines from a poem by Glaz that is inspired by the mathematical field of Ring Theory.

The entire poem is available via Glaz's profile at this link.

Work by Sarah Glaz has been featured in a variety of previous posts in this blog.  Here is a link.

Friday, June 3, 2022

The Mobius Strip -- in a LIMERICK

     Mathematics offers brief, condensed language for many big ideas.  Even for small problems -- such as the word problems of a beginning algebra class -- translation of the words into a mathematical equation offers the chance to express the problem precisely and to solve it using established procedures.    

     And brief mathematical forms also are popular in poetry -- the six-line Fib and the five-line rhyming stanza called a limerick both have wide appeal.  And, because of the brevity, the language must be concise.  At this webpage, maintained by Joachim Verhagen, are lots and lots of mathy limericks.  Here is a sample:

          The Moebius strip is a pain,
          When you cut it again and again,
               But if you should wedge
              A large disk round the edge
          Then you just get a PROjective plane.

This link leads to an interesting article about a Mobius strip made of light (see also the photo below); this link leads to a Wikipedia article about a real projective plane.  And more of Verhagen's Mobius strip limericks may be found here.  

A Mobius strip from this NOVA article

This link leads to a website with instruction for construction and playful activities with a Mobius strip.  To enjoy limericks found in earlier postings in this blog, follow this link.

Monday, May 30, 2022

All truths wait in all things . . .

       Tomorrow, May 31, is the 130th anniversary of the birth of American poet, Walt Whitman.  Below I include a few Whitman lines (with the mathy terms "logic" and "proves") that offer food for thought.

The rest of this poem and lots more by Whitman are found here at

 Whitman's complete Song of Myself (52 poems) is available at this link.
A SEARCH using Whitman will lead to more of his work in in this blog.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Mathematics might be dangerous!

       Censorship of Math Texts: A Syllable-Square with Questions
       Florida educators have banned
       Lots of mathematics texts because
       The books’ problems-to-solve include some
       REAL problems – bias and racism!
       Are the banners blind to their bias?
       Do they fear exposure and critique?
       Do they worry that knowing the need
       for drastic changes may open doors
       to fair, equal treatment of us all?

Here is a link to a news article about the Florida censorship -- written by Moriah Balingit, from 5/9/2022 in the The Washington Post.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Crisscrossing Infinity

     Poet and painter and literary theorist Paul Hartal was born in Hungary, with higher-education experiences in Israel and the U.S. -- and is now a long-term Canadian.  Recently Hartal contacted me to share a couple of his poems that involved mathematical topics -- and I offer one of these below, "Crisscrossing Infinity." Hartal's poem refers to a war memorial constructed using the pattern that first appeared in the sculpture "Endless Column" by Romanian artist Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957) and is on display at New York's MA, Museum of Modern Art.

       Crisscrossing Infinity       by Paul Hartal

       In the city of Targu Jiu, Romania,
       an abstract sculpture rises
       30 meters high.
       It is made of 15 zinc and cast iron
       rhomboidal modules
       (plus a half unit).

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Math-Poetry -- when distinct worlds collide . . .

     Carol Dorf has been a long-time leader in math poetry projects.  A now-retired secondary school math teacher from California, Carol is the poetry editor of  the online journal Talking Writing -- an online journal that has included a variety of mathy poems.   Recently, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, Carol gave a presentation entitled "Poetry of Mathematical Definitions" -- the abstract for this talk begins with this provocative sentence:

Mathematical poetry begins when worlds we consider distinct collide.

Carol's poetry-editorship for Talking Writing has led to many math-related poems being published therein.  Here is a link to those poems and a bit of other math-related content;  the following list includes names of writers whose work has been included there:  Robin Chapman,    Marion Deutsche Cohen,    Allison Hedge Coke,    Mary Cresswell,    Catherine Daly,    Carol Dorf,    Iris Jamahl Dunkle,    Sarah Glaz,    JoAnne Growney,    Athena Kildegaard,    Larry Lesser,      Elizabeth Langosy , Marco Maisto,    Alice Major,    Katie Manning,    Daniel May,    David Morimoto,    Giavanna Munafo,    Karen Ohlson,    Eveline Pye,    Stephanie Strickland,    Amy Uyematsu,    Sue Brannan Walker,    and Jean Wolff.  Some of the poets have been featured more than once and to find all work by a particular author, SEARCH is recommended.

And here, from Talking Writing,  is one of Carol Dorf's fascinating poems:

       Lost Information     by Carol Dorf

       Visualize groups: there’s the babysitting co-op,
       with slips of scrip the children color during
       quarterly potlucks; and more than enough churches
       each with study evenings, and fundraising committees;    

Monday, May 16, 2022

Bridges Math-Arts Conference 2022

      Founded by Reza Sarhangi (1952-2016) in 1998, the BRIDGES organization has had annual conferences and is an ongoing supporter of links between mathematics and the various arts.  This year's conference is scheduled for August 1-5, 2022 at Aalto University in Helsinki and Espoo, Finland.

Bridges Conference Information is available at this link.

Browsing and searching on the BRIDGES website can lead to a huge variety of math-arts connections -- including invited and contributed paper presentations, an exhibition of mathematical art, workshops, films, a poetry reading, music and theater -- including both descriptive and performance events.  Here is a link to a list of links to lots of exhibitions.   And this link leads to the results of a search in the Archive of BRIDGES papers that include the term "Poetry" in the title.

Adding to what the BRIDGES site includes is this rich source of math-poetry material at the University of Connecticut website of mathmatician-poet Sarah Glaz -- an active organizer of poetry at BRIDGES conferences.

               Poetry and
               build BRIDGES to

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Poem of the Census Enumerator

          When I look at
          the person I
          meet on the street,
          what do I see?

One of the powerful and relevant poems that has come into my view recently is "Counting" by Margarita Engle.  Engle is the author of many children's books and, from June 2017 to June 2019, she served as the Poetry Foundation's Young People's Poet Laureate.  I offer this poem below -- and invite you to ponder the discrimination-issues it raises and the COMPLEXITY of counting -- and then to follow the links to explore more of Engle's work:

       Counting      by Margarita Engle  

                    Harry Franck, from the United States of America - Census Enumerator

       I came to Panama planning to dig
       the Eighth Wonder of the World,
       but I was told that white men
       should never be seen working
       with shovels, so I took a police job,
       and now I've been transferred
       to the census.

       I roam the jungle, counting laborers
       who live in shanties and those who live
       on the run, fugitives who are too angry
       to keep working for silver in a system
       where they know that others
       earn gold.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Inspirational/Poetic Quotes about Mathematics

     The poetic quotes below sample what is found in an article by Natasha Irshad, "Inspirational quotes about the importance of Mathematics" -- found in ACADEMIA, an educational magazine from Pakistan.

     Mathematics is
     a place where you can
     do things which you can't
     do in the real world.

           -- Marcus du Sautoy

          Pure mathematics
          is the poetry of
          logical ideas.

                -- Albert Einstein

               Sometimes the questions
               are complicated,
               and the answers
               are simple.

                     -- Dr. Seuss


Thursday, May 5, 2022

Build a Poem using a Fano Plane

     Many of the mathematical poetic forms introduced in this blog are structures that can be used to build a poet's fragmented thoughts into complete and poetic form.  The Fib, for example, gives a syllable structure to help a writer shape an idea. Syllable-squares are another simple structure and -- familiar also but much more complex -- the fourteen-line Sonnet in iambic pentameter.

     Math Professor Dan May of South Dakota often works with an interesting and more complex structure called the Fano Plane -- a finite projective plane of order 2 -- and composed of 7 vertices with 7 connecting lines, each joining three vertices: 

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

"A Mother's Math is Never Done"

     In just a few days (on May 8) we will celebrate Mother's Day 2022 in the US.  And I am thinking back to the July 2018 issue the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics  -- a special issue with the theme Mathematics and Motherhood.   One of the poems presented in that issue is "A Mother's Math is Never Done,"  a sestina by JHM Editor, Gizem Karaali -- and I offer its initial stanza below, followed by a link to the complete poem.

A Mother's Math is Never Done    by Gizem Karaali

Beyond dark clouds is the blue sky.
The day will come to do your math,
Once you put away the clutter.
Someday again you know you'll fly.
Now's not the journey's end, just a detour on the path.
Only today, hold your breath, for you are a mother.     

 Go here for the rest of this sestina.  Enjoy especially the final stanza!!

The entire "Table of Contents" for Mathematics and Motherhood is available at this link.   

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Poem-in-your-Pocket Day -- April 29, 2022

      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.  

     The poetry that is in my my pocket is the opening stanza of "The Waking" by Theodore Roethke (1908-1963).   As this previous posting indicates, Roethke's poem has not always been a favorite, but now -- as I stumble toward the later years of my life -- I cherish what it awakens in me and its first stanza (offered below) belongs in my pocket!

         I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
         I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
         I learn by going where I have to go.

  Roethke's entire poem, with comments, is found here in this 2018 blog posting. And this link leads to a response to "The Waking" that I wrote-- entitled "Running."

Monday, April 25, 2022

28 Lines for History's FIRST recorded author

     Earlier this month I attended (virtually) a mathematics conference and focused my attention on sessions that linked math and the arts.  One of these was a math-poetry presentation by Sarah Glaz which celebrated Enhuedanna (early Sumerian author -- 23rd century, BCE) "Enheduanna – Princess, Priestess, Poet and Mathematician" and included this wonderfully descriptive poem by Glaz.

Twenty-Eight Lines for the En-Priestess Enheduanna    by Sarah Glaz    

       In the beginning there is no beginning.
       Eternity’s dark fingers hold a lantern
       casting a glow
       over the city-state of Ur,
       where the Sumerian princess,
       high priestess of the Moon God, Nanna,
       daughter of King Sargon,  
       stretches the cord
       measuring land and irrigation canals,

Thursday, April 21, 2022

April 22 -- Observe Earth Day

     Along with the vicious Russian attacks in Ukraine, our world today is observing a much longer period of destruction to our planet.  This link leads to "EARTH DAY" poetry in earlier postings in this blog.  And here at this website are some Earth Day poems for students.

Choose with care--
Don't pollute.  
Don't waste. Earth's

are waning.
Please! Help save!

 For a bit of amusement, 25 Earth Day puns are found here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Censorship of math books -- Oh, my!!

                         A Syllable-Square for Math Texts                    

                              If a math text shares
                              truth that is (for some)
                              banning it is not
                              what ought to be done!

A recent story in the The Washington Post (written by Valerie Strauss and Lindsey Bever; headline and link given below) examines criticisms of math texts that offer contemporary issues for mathematical consideration.

Here's a link to the Post story that follows this headline.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Poetry at the Mathematics Conference

      Last weekend, April 6-9, was a virtual national jmm - Joint Mathematics Meetings -- and I attended a number of sessions that explored links between the focused languages of mathematics and poetry.  Presenters that I was privileged to hear included Carol Dorf, Sarah Glaz, Gizem Karaali, and Dan May.  Math guy Douglas Norton of Villanova University organized contributed-paper session on "Mathematics and the Arts" and also hosted a Friday-evening poetry reading -- an event in which much of the action was writing and sharing Fibs (6-line poems with syllable count being the first six Fibonacci numbers).  Here are several samples:

From Doug Norton:                                     From Dan May:

Me?                                                                        Pet
Write?                                                                    me
A Fib?                                                                     Or I
Not a fib.                                                                will bite you.
Put my heart in it.                                                  Nighttime is here, time
Let’s just see what comes bleeding out.                  to burn off all that hay I ate.

From David Reimann:                            From Gizem Karaali

Joint                                                                   one
Math                                                                    golde
Meetings                                                              dragon
Zoom with friends                                                metallic,
poetry alive                                                          majestic creature --
breathing words across many miles . . .               not sure I want to meet one now


Monday, April 11, 2022

War and Resistance -- in Eleven Three-line Stanzas

      Recently I searched work by Ukranian authors at the Poetry International website -- hoping to find poems with mentions of mathematics -- but I did not.  Eventually, though, praise of a poem by UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage led me to "Resistance" (published here in The Guardian) with uses a prime number (11) of stanzas, each with a prime number (3) of lines, to speak of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its effects.  Here are the opening stanzas:

       Resistance       by Simon Armitage

          It’s war again: a family
             carries its family out of a pranged house
                under a burning thatch.

          The next scene smacks
             of archive newsreel: platforms and trains
                (never again, never again),

          toddlers passed
             over heads and shoulders, lifetimes stowed
                in luggage racks.

          It’s war again: unmistakable smoke
             on the near horizon mistaken
                for thick fog. Fingers crossed.          . . .     

     for the rest of Resistance, follow this link.

     Ukrainian-born Ilya Kaminsky is a very fine poet now living in the US.  Here is a link to one of his poems that describes too many of us, "We Lived Happily During the War."

Monday, April 4, 2022

April Celebrates both Math and Poetry . . .

     April is Math-Stat Awareness Month and here at the American Mathematical Society website are lots of ideas for learning and enjoyment.  April also is National Poetry Month and, at this link, suggests 30 fun ways to observe the occasion.

 Celebrate the ways
that focused language
leads us to new thoughts!

And . . . here are some poetry-with-math links to explore:    a Smithsonian Magazine article by Evelyn Lamb;  an article in Slate Magazine by Stephen Ornes;  a posting by Laura Laing on the Math for Grownups website;  from way back in 2009, an article by Shirley Dent in The Guardian. 

Enjoy all of these AND, when your time permits, browse or SEARCH this blog!