**M**ultiply

**A**xioms,

**T**risect

**H**yperbolas,

**W**ager

**O**rthogonal

**M**artingales

**A**ll

**N**ight

**!**

**Dear reader, please share your own words -- via comments below!**

Mathematical language can heighten the imagery of a poem; mathematical structure can deepen its effect. Feast here on an international menu of poems made rich by mathematical ingredients . . . . . . . gathered by JoAnne Growney.

During these days in which discrimination against math-women happens again and again I have wanted to write a poem that celebrates us. My efforts at traditional verse seemed whining. Sense left me. Eventually this came:

**M** ultiply

**A** xioms,

**T** risect

**H** yperbolas,

**W** ager

**O** rthogonal

**M **artingales

**A **ll

**N **ight **!**

**Dear reader, please share your own words -- via comments below! **

I was an active participant in HMNJ -- contributing articles and serving for several years as poetry editor -- and have enjoyed browsing the archives. One of my articles, "Mathematics and Poetry: Isolated or Integrated" is available here (Issue 6, 1991).

It is well-known that Nobel Prizes

Come in many shapes and sizes.

But one is missing from the list --

The Nobel Math Prize does not exist.

Labels:
Alfred Nobel,
Humanistic Mathematics,
William Dunham

Here's poem found in an old email from my Bloomsburg friend, Janice B. Its authors turn out to be Fred Bremmer and Steve Kroese and they penned it around 1990, using computer keyboard characters, during their student days at Calvin College. Enjoy!

< > ! * ' ' #*read as* Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash

^ " ` $ $ - Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash

! * = @ $ _ Bang splat equal at dollar underscore

% * < > ~ # 4 Percent splat waka waka tilde number 4

& [ ] . . / Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash

| { , , SYSTEM HALTED Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.

___________________________________

< > ! * ' ' #

^ " ` $ $ - Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash

! * = @ $ _ Bang splat equal at dollar underscore

% * < > ~ # 4 Percent splat waka waka tilde number 4

& [ ] . . / Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash

| { , , SYSTEM HALTED Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.

Labels:
Bloomsburg,
computer keyboard,
Fred Bremmer,
Steve Kroese

1 Not

1 one

2 circle

3 is perfect

5 yet the idea

8 of circle's useful every day.

The beauty of images and the ideas they represent is central in both

Labels:
Carol Dorf,
circle,
Karen Ohlson,
perfect,
talkingwriting.com

At Victoria University in Melbourne, novelist, playwright and poet Tom Petsinis also teaches mathematics. He participated in the 2016 Bridges Math-Arts Conference in Finland this summer: here are two of his poems from the *2016 Bridges Poetry Anthology* -- and each of them plays with mathematical ideas in new and thoughtful (sometimes amusing) ways. "Zeno's Paradox" follows this initial poem. (Names and links for other anthology poets are given below.)

** Division by Zero ** by Tom Petsinis

She could’ve been our grandmother

Warning us of poisonous mushrooms ‒

To stress her point she'd scratch

The taboo bold with crimson chalk.

It should never be used to divide,

Or we'd be howled from lined yard

To pit where cruel paradoxes ruled.

Her warnings tempted us even more:

Young, growing full in confidence,

We’d prove the impossible for fun ‒

Nothing she said could restrain us

From showing two is equal to one.

She could’ve been our grandmother

Warning us of poisonous mushrooms ‒

To stress her point she'd scratch

The taboo bold with crimson chalk.

It should never be used to divide,

Or we'd be howled from lined yard

To pit where cruel paradoxes ruled.

Her warnings tempted us even more:

Young, growing full in confidence,

We’d prove the impossible for fun ‒

Nothing she said could restrain us

From showing two is equal to one.

Labels:
Australia,
Bridges,
Tom Petsinis,
Zeno,
zero

During the summer I had lots of activities with grandchildren -- they all love to read and one of the books we enjoyed together was *Counting Rhymes* (selected by Shona McKellar, a Dorling Kindersley book, 1993). Here are a rhyme and a riddle from that collection.

**Let's Send a Rocket ** by Kit Patrickson

TEN, NINE, EIGHT, We're counting each second,

SEVEN, SIX, FIVE . . . And soon it will boom!

We'll send up a rocket, Get ready for . . . TWO;

And it will be LIVE . Get ready to go . . .

FIVE, FOUR, THREE . . . It's TWO--and it's--ONE!

It's ready to zoom! We're OFF! It's ZERO!

** RIDDLE -- What animal do these clues describe?**
Four stiff-standers,

Four dilly-danders,

Two lookers,

Two crookers,

And a wig-wag.

TEN, NINE, EIGHT, We're counting each second,

SEVEN, SIX, FIVE . . . And soon it will boom!

We'll send up a rocket, Get ready for . . . TWO;

And it will be LIVE . Get ready to go . . .

FIVE, FOUR, THREE . . . It's TWO--and it's--ONE!

It's ready to zoom! We're OFF! It's ZERO!

Four dilly-danders,

Two lookers,

Two crookers,

And a wig-wag.

Labels:
counting rhyme,
Kit Patrickson,
riddle,
Shona McKellar

Here are the titles and dates of previous blog postings,

moving backward from the present.

Aug 31 Twelveness -- a Fibonacci poem from G4G

Aug 29 Math-play via verse (with George Darley)

Aug 25 Numbers and Faces - poem, anthology

Aug 22 Math-poetry connects with Carol Burnett

Aug 17 Swim, Girl, Swim -- thirty-five miles

Science writer, philosopher, and skeptic Martin Gardner (1914-2010) is perhaps best known for his long-running *Scientific American* column, "Mathematical Games." His life and work are celebrated by G4G conferences ("Gatherings for Gardner") held in even-numbered years in Atlanta. Here fans gather and present fun-mathematics to each other.

A several-time participant in G4G is Kate Jones of Kadon Enterprises, an organization devoted to the development and distribution of Game Puzzles. Below in a Fibonacci poem created for the 2016 G4G Jones tells the history of her game-puzzle enterprise.

**TWELVENESS** by Kate Jones

** 1 Martin**

1 Gardner

2 Long ago

3 Wrote about pentominoes,

5 Brainchild of young Solomon Golomb,

8 The coolest recmath set in all the world.

A several-time participant in G4G is Kate Jones of Kadon Enterprises, an organization devoted to the development and distribution of Game Puzzles. Below in a Fibonacci poem created for the 2016 G4G Jones tells the history of her game-puzzle enterprise.

Many Fibonacci poems use the Fibonacci number sequence

to determine the numbers of *syllables* in successive lines of a poem.

In the following poem, it is the numbers of *words* that are counted.

A**pentomino** is a plane geometric figure formed by joining five equal squares edge to edge.

There are twelve differently-shaped pentominos; this number gives the title of Jones's poem.

A

There are twelve differently-shaped pentominos; this number gives the title of Jones's poem.

1 Gardner

2 Long ago

3 Wrote about pentominoes,

5 Brainchild of young Solomon Golomb,

8 The coolest recmath set in all the world.

Labels:
Fibonacci,
Kate Jones,
Martin Gardner,
pentomino

A recent email from Colm Mulcahy -- who seeks out all things Irish -- alerted me to Dublin poet and math-text author, George Darley (1795-1846), and an online archived collection of his poems. Colm's email had opened the collection to pages 70-71 and there I found -- and had fun reading -- this poem that plays with math.

** A Poetical Problem.** by George Darley

Once on a time, at evening hour,

A sweet, and dewy-bosom'd Flower

Was cradling up to rest ;

A Pilgrim, wandering near her bed,

Raised, with his staff, her drooping head,

And thus the Flower addrest :

"From matin-rise to moonlight hour,

Tell me, my pearly-crested Flower,

How many a lucid gem

Hath left the high, cavernal air,

To form upon thy queenly hair

A rainbow diadem?"

Once on a time, at evening hour,

A sweet, and dewy-bosom'd Flower

Was cradling up to rest ;

A Pilgrim, wandering near her bed,

Raised, with his staff, her drooping head,

And thus the Flower addrest :

"From matin-rise to moonlight hour,

Tell me, my pearly-crested Flower,

How many a lucid gem

Hath left the high, cavernal air,

To form upon thy queenly hair

A rainbow diadem?"

"Numbers and Faces" is the title of a poem by W. H. Auden that ends with these lines:

True, between faces almost any number

Might come in handy, and One is always real;

But which could any face call good, for calling

Infinity a number does not make it one.

"Numbers and Faces" is also the title of a small**anthology** of poems, published in 2001 and containing Auden's poem, that I collected and edited for the Humanistic Mathematics Network. The anthology has been out of print for many years but a file with its mathy poems is available online here.

The Humanistic Mathematics Network (started around 1987 by Alvin White) had a*Newsletter *and then a *Journal* but these paper publications faded away around 2004. The *Journal of Humanistic Mathematics* emerged in 2011 to fill the void. Recently I have learned from JHM editor Gizem Karaali, that an online archive of the prior publications is available here. (Using the search box, I was able to find several of my own years-ago articles, including one from 1994 entitled "Mathematics in Literature and Poetry.")

True, between faces almost any number

Might come in handy, and One is always real;

But which could any face call good, for calling

Infinity a number does not make it one.

The complete poem is posted here.

"Numbers and Faces" is also the title of a small

The Humanistic Mathematics Network (started around 1987 by Alvin White) had a

Carol Burnett is a wonderful gal

She always makes me laugh somehow

All she has to do is put on that silly grin

And I get this funny feeling all over my chin

Labels:
Carol Burnett,
Indiana,
Jimmy Stewart,
Kevin Spacey,
NPR

Today's poem uses a single number (**35**) as it celebrates Gertrude Ederle (1905-2003), an Olympic (1924) swimmer and (in 1926) English Channel crosser -- also, I notice, someone whose Wikipedia entry needs more work. This poem honoring Ederle -- by a Children's Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis -- I found at PoetryFoundation.org.

As the 2016 Olympics take place now in Rio, many of the stories feature outstanding female athletes -- and it has not gone unnoticed that male competitors are simply "athletes" whereas Olympic women are "female" athletes. Is this unconscious bias? It is similar to the way a mathematician who is a woman is detractingly described as "a female mathematician."

**Celebrate Gertrude Ederle! Celebrate swimmers!**

** Swim, Girl, Swim ** by J. Patrick Lewis

*for Gertrude Ederle*

As Europe woke from sleep,

Young Trudy Ederle

At Cap Gris Nez in France

Dived into a daunting sea.

As the 2016 Olympics take place now in Rio, many of the stories feature outstanding female athletes -- and it has not gone unnoticed that male competitors are simply "athletes" whereas Olympic women are "female" athletes. Is this unconscious bias? It is similar to the way a mathematician who is a woman is detractingly described as "a female mathematician."

As Europe woke from sleep,

Young Trudy Ederle

At Cap Gris Nez in France

Dived into a daunting sea.

Labels:
English Channel,
Gertrude Ederle,
J. Patrick Lewis,
Olympics

As noted in last week's posts, the annual international math-arts festival, BRIDGES, recently was held in Finland. Now the archives of papers presented there are available at this link.

One of the programs related to poetry was a workshop by poet Tom Petsinis of Melbourne, “Mathematics Through the Matrix of Poetry,” archived here.

**Past BRIDGES conferences have also included**

**a variety of poetry-math connections.**

For example, in 2015, "Composing Mathematical Poetry" by Carol Dorf,

“Visualizing Rhyme Patterns in Sonnet Sequences” by Hartmut F. W. Hoft,

and a few remarks from me, “Inspire Math-Girls-Women (perhaps with poems)”.

Using the**SEARCH** box (beneath the list of years in the left column) and entering the term “poem” led me to a total of 28 hits. Explore! Enjoy!!

One of the programs related to poetry was a workshop by poet Tom Petsinis of Melbourne, “Mathematics Through the Matrix of Poetry,” archived here.

For example, in 2015, "Composing Mathematical Poetry" by Carol Dorf,

“Visualizing Rhyme Patterns in Sonnet Sequences” by Hartmut F. W. Hoft,

and a few remarks from me, “Inspire Math-Girls-Women (perhaps with poems)”.

Using the

The 2016 BRIDGES Math-Arts Conference
is currently taking place at the University of Jyväskylä in Jyväskylä, Finland. Poets on this year's program include: Manfred Stern, Vera Schwarcz, Eveline Pye, Tom Petsinis, Mike Naylor, Alice Major, Emily Grosholz, Carol Dorf, Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya, Madhur Anand and the organizer, Sarah Glaz.

Although he is not a participant in this year's BRIDGES, the name of Portuguese mathematician, poet, and translator Francisco José Craveiro de Carvalho appears near the top of the conference's poetry page for his translation of these lines that have become a sort of motto for BRIDGES poetry:

Newton's binomial is as beautiful as Venus de Milo.

What happens is that few people notice it.

--Fernando Pessoa (as Álvaro de Campos)

translated from the Portuguese by Francisco Craveiro

Although he is not a participant in this year's BRIDGES, the name of Portuguese mathematician, poet, and translator Francisco José Craveiro de Carvalho appears near the top of the conference's poetry page for his translation of these lines that have become a sort of motto for BRIDGES poetry:

Newton's binomial is as beautiful as Venus de Milo.

What happens is that few people notice it.

--Fernando Pessoa (as Álvaro de Campos)

translated from the Portuguese by Francisco Craveiro

Tomorrow the 2016 BRIDGES Conference (which celebrates the connections between mathematics and the arts) will open at the University of Jyväskylä in Jyväskylä, Finland. Helping the conference to celebrate poetry will be Sarah Glaz, who has organized a poetry reading for the afternoon of August 12 and prepared a poetry collection that anthologizes poets who have been BRIDGES participants. Here is a one of my favorite poems from the collection -- by Maryland poet Deanna Nikaido who, alas (and like me), will not be able to attend the conference.

** Trouble with Word Problems ** by Deanna Nikaido

Once asked to solve the arrival time of two trains

traveling at different speeds

toward the same destination—I failed.

Mathlexia my friend said.

Once asked to solve the arrival time of two trains

traveling at different speeds

toward the same destination—I failed.

Mathlexia my friend said.

Labels:
Bridges,
Deanna Nikaido,
Robert Fathauer,
Sarah Glaz

Pomona College mathematician Gizem Karaali, one of the editors of the online *Journal of Humanistic Mathematics*, is also a poet. And the journal conscientiously features links between mathematics and the literary arts.

The current issue (online since late July) features my review of Madhur Anand's vibrant new collection,*A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes* (Penguin Random House, 2015) and these poems:

The current issue (online since late July) features my review of Madhur Anand's vibrant new collection,

"The Greatest Integer Function" by Alanna Rae,

"Quantitative Literacy" by Thomas L. Moore,

"Menger Sponge" by E. Laura Golberg,

"Calculus Problems" by Joshua N. Cooper, and

"An Exercise on Limits" by Manya Raman-Sundström.

Here are the titles and dates of previous blog postings,

moving backward from the present.

July 31 Loving the difference quotient ... and more ...

July 25 Homage to Godel

July 21 One thing leads to another -- "Do the Math"

July 19 A number tells the story -- in these Haiku

July 18 String Theory

July 12 Continue to celebrate Szymborska

From Philadelphia poet-mathematician, Marion Cohen, a new collection -- *Closer to Dying* (Word Tech, 2016). When I received the book a few days ago and began to read I did, of course, seek out mathy poems. Two of these are included below. In this first poem Cohen has some fun with the terms and symbols of introductory calculus. In the second, she tells of an encounter of the sort that happens to many mathematicians -- meeting someone who supposes that mathematicians do what calculators do. (This link leads to a collection of mathy poems (including ones by Cohen) at talkingwriting,com.)

From Erica Jolly, an Australian poet and online friend, I have learned of a fine anthology of science poems -- *A Quark for Mister Mark: 101 Poems about Science*, edited by Maurice Riordan and Jon Turney (Faber and Faber, 2000). A poem in that collection that was new to me -- and one I like a lot -- is "Homage to Gödel" by German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger; I offer it below. This link leads to a thoughtful review (by Richard Dove) of Enzensberger's poetry -- one of Dove's observations is that thought processes fascinate Enzenberger; "Homage to Gödel" illustrates that fascination.

** Homage to Gödel **by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

'Pull yourself out of the mire

by your own hair': Münchhausen's theorem

is charming, but do not forget:

the Baron was a great liar.

(translated from German by the poet)

'Pull yourself out of the mire

by your own hair': Münchhausen's theorem

is charming, but do not forget:

the Baron was a great liar.

Labels:
Hans Magnus Enzensberger,
Kurt Godel,
system,
theorem

I offer poetry workshops for Peer Wellness and Recovery Services -- and PWRS coordinator Miriam Yarmolinsky invited me to go with her to the very fine DC Fringe Festival event featuring Leah Harris -- and Leah is also a poet whose work I found in the anthology *Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution* -- where I also found "Do the Math" -- a crowd-pleaser by a 2002 slam champion Meliza Bañales -- available here on YouTube and included below. **Enjoy!**

**Do the Math ** by Meliza Bañales

The equation goes something like this:

one white mother plus one brown father divided by two

different worlds

equals a daughter.

The equation goes something like this:

one white mother plus one brown father divided by two

different worlds

equals a daughter.

Labels:
equation,
Leah Harris,
math,
Meliza Banales,
Miriam Yarmolinsky,
PWRS,
slam

One of my neighbors, Carol, has been cleaning out bookshelves and offered me her old copy of Gary Snyder's collection, *The Back Country* (New Directions, 1971) -- and in it I have found four pages of "Hitch Haiku." Three of these little poems each depend on a number -- and I offer them below.

A truck went by

three hours ago:

Smoke Creek desert

**Over the Mindano Deep **

** **
Scrap brass

dumpt off the fantail

falling six miles

Stray white mare

neck rope dangling

forty miles from farms.

A truck went by

three hours ago:

Smoke Creek desert

dumpt off the fantail

falling six miles

Stray white mare

neck rope dangling

forty miles from farms.

String Theory is a theoretical framework that attempts to explain, among other things, quantum gravity. Its basic elements are open and closed strings -- rather than point-like particles. The poem "String Theory" by Ronald Wallace offers imaginative and thoughtful interplay between these strings of theoretical physics and the strings of musical instruments -- I found the poem at the *VerseDaily* website and Wallace has given me permission to use it here.

** String Theory **by Ronald Wallace

I have to believe a Beethoven

string quartet is not unlike

the elliptical music of gossip:

one violin excited

to pass its small story along

I have to believe a Beethoven

string quartet is not unlike

the elliptical music of gossip:

one violin excited

to pass its small story along

Labels:
gravity,
Ronald Wallace,
Sarah Glaz,
Strange Attractors,
string theory

If you are a frequent visitor to this blog, you know that Polish Nobelist (1996) Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012) is one of my favorite poets. My Romanian friend Doru Radu, who now lives in Poland, visited New York recently and during my visit with him there he surprised me with a gift -- a posthumous bilingual Szymborska collection, *Enough* (Wydawnictwo a5, translated by Clare Cavanagh). Here is the English version of a small poem with numbers from that collection:

** Hand **

Twenty seven bones,

thirty five muscles,

around two thousand nerve cells

in every tip of all five fingers.

It's more than enough

to write "Mein Kampf"

or "Pooh Corner."

Links to additional postings of Szymborska's work may be found here.

Remember also to visit the wonderful Spring 2016 issue of TalkingWriting -- with its smorgasbord of mathy poems.

Twenty seven bones,

thirty five muscles,

around two thousand nerve cells

in every tip of all five fingers.

It's more than enough

to write "Mein Kampf"

or "Pooh Corner."

Links to additional postings of Szymborska's work may be found here.

Remember also to visit the wonderful Spring 2016 issue of TalkingWriting -- with its smorgasbord of mathy poems.

Labels:
Clare Cavanagh,
Doru Radu,
Nobel Prize,
Pooh Corner,
Wislawa Szymborska

In 1998 at Southwestern College in Winfield, KS an Iranian mathematician, **Reza Sarhangi**, organized the first of a series of annual **Bridges** conferences that celebrate the intersection of mathematics and the arts. On July 1, 2016, this vital mathematician-artist passed away. Many will celebrate the life of this warm and generous and talented man.

where you can learn a bit about Reza Sarhangi and about this year's conference in Finland.

Here is a link to an article by Sarhangi on Persian art -- indeed, it includes a poem.

Sarhangi was at the time of his death, a professor at Towson University.

Here is a link to his informative Towson webpage which I hope the university will keep alive.

A 5x5 syllable-square of protest, from JoAnne Growney

Early in June it was my privilege to hear poet Lesley Wheeler read as part of the Joaquin Miller Poetry Series on summer Sundays in Washington, DC's Rock Creek Park. Lesley read from her wonderful 2015 collection, *Radioland*, in which I found this mathy sonnet, a poem of twists and singularities and rich with double meanings:

** Concentric Grooves, 1983 ** by Lesley Wheeler

Every whorl in the floorboard spins clockwise,

the grain widening round the stain, a stream

of years circling a burn-brown knot. Strum

and crackly gap. Music drowns a wheeze

Every whorl in the floorboard spins clockwise,

the grain widening round the stain, a stream

of years circling a burn-brown knot. Strum

and crackly gap. Music drowns a wheeze

Every issue of the *Journal of Humanistic Mathematics *contains poetry.

The Spring 2016 issue of *TalkingWriting* has more than a score of mathy poems.

From this week's *New Yorker* (June 27, 2016) from a poem by Maya Ribault entitled "Society of Butterflies" this mathy statement:

. . . I save

for retirement—to my bohemian eyes,

a fortune—though they say you need more

than a million. Immerse yourself in the exponential

power of dividends. . . .

Read the entire poem here.

. . . I save

for retirement—to my bohemian eyes,

a fortune—though they say you need more

than a million. Immerse yourself in the exponential

power of dividends. . . .

Read the entire poem here.

Labels:
dividend,
exponential,
Maya Ribault,
New Yorker,
power

Now I see them sitting me before a mirror.

There’s noise and laughter. Somebody

mentions that hearing is silver

before we move on to Table One

with the random numbers. I look down

a long street containing numbers.

Here is a reflective poem by San Diego poet Ben Doller (found also at Poets.org and included here with permission of the poet).

** Proportion ** by Ben Doller

Just want things

proportional.

Just things,

not all.

Not kings, kings

should be below:

Just want things

proportional.

Just things,

not all.

Not kings, kings

should be below:

Poems thrive on imagery created from specific (rather than vague) details -- and numbers and other math terms are very specific! Below I present several samples of mathematical imagery in poems from an excellent and important recent anthology *Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace*.

Here are the opening lines of**"Circle of Silence"** by Stacy K. Vargas:

Like an electron trapped in an unstable orbit, I am seated

in a circle of powerful men.

In an awkward moment small talk ends

and the meeting abruptly begins.

The superintendent turns to me and says,

"This was not sexual harassment."

And the opening lines of**"The Typist"** by Barbara Drake:

I made 87 1/2 cents an hour typing,

when I was a college student.

Here are the opening lines of

Like an electron trapped in an unstable orbit, I am seated

in a circle of powerful men.

In an awkward moment small talk ends

and the meeting abruptly begins.

The superintendent turns to me and says,

"This was not sexual harassment."

And the opening lines of

I made 87 1/2 cents an hour typing,

when I was a college student.

Bernadette Turner teaches mathematics at Lincoln University in Missouri. And, via a long-ago email (lost for a while, and then found) she has offered this love poem enlivened by the terminology of geometry.

**Parallel Lines Joined Forever ** by Bernadette Turner

We started out as just two parallel lines

in the plane of life.

I noticed your good points from afar,

but always kept same distance.

I assumed that you had not noticed me at all.

We started out as just two parallel lines

in the plane of life.

I noticed your good points from afar,

but always kept same distance.

I assumed that you had not noticed me at all.

In mathematics -- as in spoken languages -- we have learned to use symbols to shape our thoughts. Pioneering artist Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) carefully expresses this important idea in terms of chess.

“The chess pieces are the block alphabet

which shapes thoughts; and these thoughts, although

making a visual design on the chess-board,

express their beauty abstractly, like a poem...

I have come to the personal conclusion

that while all artists are not chess players,

all chess players are artists.”

During these days of celebration of the life of Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) I have refreshed my memory of his notable quotes (many of which are found here). Here is one with some numbers:

“The chess pieces are the block alphabet

which shapes thoughts; and these thoughts, although

making a visual design on the chess-board,

express their beauty abstractly, like a poem...

I have come to the personal conclusion

that while all artists are not chess players,

all chess players are artists.”

―Marcel Duchamp

This and other stimulating statements from Duchamp are available here.

During these days of celebration of the life of Muhammad Ali (1942-2016) I have refreshed my memory of his notable quotes (many of which are found here). Here is one with some numbers:

A man who views the world

the same at 50

as he did at 20

has wasted 30 years of his life.

Labels:
alphabet,
artist,
chess,
Marcel Duchamp,
Muhammad Ali

One strategy for proving a mathematical theorem is a "proof by contradiction." In such a proof one begins by supposing the opposite of what is to be proved -- and then reasons logically to obtain a statement that contradicts a known truth. This contradiction verifies that our opposite-assumption was wrong and that our original statement-to-be-proved is indeed correct. (An easily-read introduction to "proof-by-contradiction" is given here.)

Peggy Shumaker is an Alaskan poet whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a reading at Bloomsburg University where I was a math professor a few years ago. Her poem, "What to Count On," below, has a beautiful surprise after a sequence of negations -- and reminds me of the structure of a proof-by-contradiction.

**What to Count On** by Peggy Shumaker

Not one star, not even the half moon

on the night you were born

Not the flash of salmon

nor ridges on blue snow

Not the flicker of raven’s

never-still eye

Peggy Shumaker is an Alaskan poet whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a reading at Bloomsburg University where I was a math professor a few years ago. Her poem, "What to Count On," below, has a beautiful surprise after a sequence of negations -- and reminds me of the structure of a proof-by-contradiction.

Not one star, not even the half moon

on the night you were born

Not the flash of salmon

nor ridges on blue snow

Not the flicker of raven’s

never-still eye

Labels:
Alaska,
arc,
contradiction,
count,
Peggy Shumaker,
proof

The farmhouse* in which I grew up had a room we called "The Library" because of its small bookshelf with my father's books -- including selections from Kipling and Twain and *Aesop's Fables*. I liked to read. And a lot of the morals are now stored in my head. Recently I have found and enjoyed poetry versions of some of these in Jean de La Fontaine's *Selected Fables* (Dover, 2000) -- see also Project Gutenberg. Here is one about the mathematics of greed ... .

**The Hen with the Golden Eggs** by Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695)

An olden maxim, which expresses

How Avarice, in search of gain,

May lose the hoard that it possesses.

translated by Walter Thornbury

My little story will explainAn olden maxim, which expresses

How Avarice, in search of gain,

May lose the hoard that it possesses.

Labels:
Aesop,
fable,
greed,
Jean de La Fontaine,
Walter Thornbury

Here is a link to "Applied Mathematics" written and recited by London poet Dan Simpson. This link leads to several math-arts samples (including two poems -- the first is by Gizem Karaali and you may scroll down to hear my poem, "A Taste of Mathematics") recorded by Samuel Hansen. (The complete text of "A Taste of Mathematics" is available here.) This link connects to information about a 2014 YouTube video featuring a varied list of mathy poets.

Labels:
Dan Simpson,
Gizem Karali,
JoAnne Growney,
Samuel Hansen,
YouTube

A few days ago I followed a broken link on the Poetry Foundation website and the site offered me this cryptic quatrain by American poet J. V. Cunningham (1911-1985) -- it is the final stanza of a poem I have posted here.

Error is boundless.

Nor hope nor doubt,

Though both be groundless,

Will average out.

– J.V. Cunningham, from “Meditation on Statistical Method”

Often on my mind these recent days has been the film I saw last week -- "The Man Who Knew Infinity" -- and I invite you to follow these links to poetry concerning its central characters, mathematicians Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) and G. H. Hardy (1877-1947).

Error is boundless.

Nor hope nor doubt,

Though both be groundless,

Will average out.

– J.V. Cunningham, from “Meditation on Statistical Method”

Often on my mind these recent days has been the film I saw last week -- "The Man Who Knew Infinity" -- and I invite you to follow these links to poetry concerning its central characters, mathematicians Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) and G. H. Hardy (1877-1947).

Labels:
G H Hardy,
J.V. Cunningham,
Srinivasa Ramanujan

The number in the title of Robin Chapman's poem first attracted me to it and the mention of Wyalusing in the first line drew me further in -- for Wyalusing is the name of a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania (a region in which I lived and taught -- at Bloomsburg University -- for many years). But, of course, Google was able to tell me of another Wyalusing, a park in Wisconsin, home state of the poet, and a place advertised as having *plentiful bird-watching*. Enjoy:

** One Hundred White Pelicans** by Robin Chapman

Over Wyalusing, riding thermals, they shine

and disappear, vanish like thought,

re-emerge stacked, stretched,

a drifting fireworks' burst.

Over Wyalusing, riding thermals, they shine

and disappear, vanish like thought,

re-emerge stacked, stretched,

a drifting fireworks' burst.

One of my recent poetry-finds has been the anthology *Regreen: New Canadian Ecological Poetry*, edited by Madhur Anand and Adam Dickinson (Scrivener Press, 2009) and in it some small mentions of mathematics. The following poem by artist and poet Erin Robinsong considers things big and small -- and observes some paradoxes. Is *math* the puzzle or the explanation or . . .?

**SEED : CEDE** by Erin Robinsong

*Looking into the peach-pit, we find a vast spaciousness, as if actually looking into a pit – *

A math problem:

A peach pit is weighed against

the year’s yield plus the tree:

30 g, 900 kg.

Which weighs more?

A math problem:

A peach pit is weighed against

the year’s yield plus the tree:

30 g, 900 kg.

Which weighs more?

Labels:
Adam Dickinson,
ecology,
Erin Robinsong,
Madhur Anand,
paradox,
Regreen

One of my smart-phone delights is the App (available from PoetryFoundation.org) that gives me a selection of poems on the go. (My posting for 15 October 2015 gives a description of how the App works.) A few days ago, spinning its dials -- matching the categories "Humor," "& Arts and Sciences"-- I found the exceptional poem "Squaring the Circle" in which poet Philip Fried has some fun with the impossible problem. ("Squaring the Circle" first appeared in the July /August 2014 issue of *Poetry* and Fried has given me permission to include it here.)

**Squaring the Circle** by Philip Fried

It’s a little-known fact that God’s headgear —

A magician’s collapsible silk top hat,

When viewed from Earth, from the bottom up —

Is,*sub specie aeternitatis*,

It’s a little-known fact that God’s headgear —

A magician’s collapsible silk top hat,

When viewed from Earth, from the bottom up —

Is,

Labels:
circle,
impossible,
Philip Fried,
POETRY App,
square

Last Sunday's paper had

an essay by a clown

who said as long as I

play dumb people let me

do what I want. And I

cannot stop wondering.

Find lots of mathy poems **here** at TalkingWriting.com; this week featuring Sarah Glaz.

Labels:
6,
clown,
Colm Mulcahy,
perfect,
Sarah Glaz,
square

In mid-April at the Split This Rock Poetry Festival, one of the sessions I attended and valued had the title " "Eco-Feminist Poetry, Intersectionality, & the End of the Earth." In the midst of my concern about ecology and women is my addiction to mathematics -- and a poem by Cecilia Llompart started me counting. See if you, too, count the word "buffalo" eight times during this poem; and shudder when you read the final word.

** Eight Buffalo ** by Cecilia Llompart

An obstinacy of buffalo

is not to say that the buffalo

are stubborn. No, not like

a grass stain. More that

the very bulk of one—

An obstinacy of buffalo

is not to say that the buffalo

are stubborn. No, not like

a grass stain. More that

the very bulk of one—

Labels:
buffalo,
Cecilia Llompart,
count,
ecology,
eight,
feminist,
Split This Rock

Subscribe to:
Posts (Atom)

articles, and collaborations,

visit http://joannegrowney.com/**. **

**This link **leads to to a file of suggested search topics.

Follow on Twitter: Follow @MathyPoems

Share a link: Tweet

**Blog content ****is licensed under a ****Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.** Use material found here for non-commercial purposes, and attribute -- give JoAnne Growney's name, the title of blog, and the URL of the posting from which content is taken, as well as full and proper credit to others whose work you use.

visit http://joannegrowney.com/

Follow on Twitter: Follow @MathyPoems

Share a link: Tweet

abecedarian poem
(4)
abstract
(4)
abstract algebra
(3)
accuracy
(4)
Ada Lovelace
(3)
addition
(4)
Adrienne Rich
(4)
aesthetic distance
(1)
Against Infinity
(6)
algebra
(25)
Algebra II
(1)
algebras
(1)
Alice Major
(6)
angle
(17)
angler
(1)
angles
(2)
angling
(1)
angular
(2)
Annalisa Crannell
(4)
anthology
(6)
applied mathematics
(6)
Aram Saroyan
(3)
arithmetic
(17)
arithmetic mean
(2)
art
(10)
artificial intelligence
(2)
Audre Lorde
(4)
average
(3)
axiom
(6)
balance
(5)
balanced
(1)
baseball
(3)
Basho
(2)
bell curve
(3)
Benoit Mandelbrot
(5)
birthday paradox
(1)
Black History Month
(7)
Bob Grumman
(4)
Brian McCabe
(5)
Bucharest Tales
(2)
butterfly
(1)
butterfly effect
(2)
calculation
(12)
calculations
(1)
calculator
(2)
calculus
(22)
Carl Sandburg
(5)
Catalan
(2)
Catalan numbers
(1)
center
(6)
Cento
(5)
centroid
(2)
certain
(2)
certainty
(2)
Charles Simic
(4)
Christmas
(9)
circle
(45)
circles
(2)
circling
(1)
circular
(2)
circumference
(11)
climate
(5)
climate change
(7)
Climate March
(1)
clock
(3)
coastline
(1)
complex
(5)
complex number
(2)
complexity
(3)
computer
(5)
computing
(2)
conditional
(3)
constrained poetry
(3)
constraint
(6)
cosine
(3)
count
(34)
countable
(1)
counting
(51)
counting rhyme
(3)
counting women
(1)
cube
(11)
dance
(6)
decimal
(8)
decimal place
(3)
degrees
(4)
derivative
(5)
digit
(3)
digital
(1)
digits
(7)
dimension
(7)
discover
(4)
discovery
(4)
discrimination
(4)
distance
(7)
divide
(9)
divided
(4)
divisible
(1)
division
(4)
Doru Radu
(7)
e
(4)
Earth day
(4)
Eileen Pollack
(1)
ellipse
(2)
elliptical
(3)
Emily Grosholz
(7)
Emmy Noether
(8)
Enriqueta Carrington
(2)
equal
(9)
equality
(2)
equation
(31)
error
(5)
Euler
(2)
Euler's formula
(2)
Euler's identity
(1)
Eveline Pye
(6)
F J Craveiro de Carvalho
(5)
factor
(5)
factoring
(5)
FIB
(8)
Fibonacci
(12)
Fibonacci numbers
(3)
figure
(4)
figures
(1)
finite
(9)
formula
(4)
found
(1)
found poem
(9)
fractal
(10)
fraction
(7)
fraction line
(2)
fractions
(2)
Francisco José Craveiro de Carvalho
(5)
free verse
(3)
G H Hardy
(4)
Gabriel Prajitura
(3)
game theory
(3)
Garrett Hardin
(4)
geometer
(3)
geometric
(5)
Geometries
(2)
geometry
(53)
Georg Cantor
(3)
George Bacovia
(3)
girl
(4)
girls
(8)
Gizem Karaali
(15)
Grace Brewster Murray Hopper
(1)
Grace Hopper
(1)
Grace Murray Hopper
(1)
grandchildren
(2)
granddaughters
(1)
Grandma
(4)
gravity
(5)
groundhog
(4)
Guillevic
(6)
half
(3)
half-way
(1)
hexagon
(5)
hexagons
(1)
Howard Nemerov
(8)
Humanistic Mathematics
(4)
Hypatia
(4)
hyperbolic
(3)
hypertext
(2)
hypotenuse
(8)
identity
(8)
imaginary
(6)
infinite
(41)
infinities
(4)
infinition
(1)
infinitude
(2)
infinity
(27)
integer
(6)
integers
(2)
Integral
(6)
intersection
(4)
irrational
(13)
Isaac Newton
(6)
Jane Hirshfield
(4)
Jill Pipher
(2)
Joan Mazza
(5)
Jorge Luis Borges
(6)
Journal of Humanistic Mathematics
(18)
Julia Spicher Kasdorf
(3)
June Jordan
(5)
Karl Weierstrass
(3)
Kaz Maslanka
(5)
Kovalevskaia
(1)
Kovalevskaya
(2)
Kyi May Kaung
(3)
Kyoko Mori
(2)
Lana Turner
(1)
Langston Hughes
(3)
Larry Lesser
(2)
Lawrence Mark Lesser
(3)
length
(4)
Leonhard Euler
(3)
Lewis Carroll
(10)
Lillian R Lieber
(2)
limerick
(15)
limit
(8)
limits
(3)
Linda Pastan
(3)
line
(28)
line segment
(1)
linear
(1)
lines
(6)
logarithm
(2)
logarithmic spiral
(2)
Lord Byron
(4)
Lucille Lang Day
(3)
Madhur Anand
(4)
magician
(3)
Marianne Moore
(5)
Marion Cohen
(7)
Marion Deutsche Cohen
(3)
Martin Gardner
(10)
Math Awareness Month
(4)
math-girls
(1)
math-women
(7)
Mathematical Intelligencer
(5)
mathematical poem
(6)
matSHEmatics
(1)
measure
(13)
measurement
(1)
measuring
(3)
Michael Bartholomew-Biggs
(2)
Mike Keith
(3)
Millie Niss
(2)
mnemonic
(4)
Mobius band
(3)
Mobius strip
(4)
multiplication
(4)
multiply
(4)
N+7
(2)
NASA
(5)
natural number
(7)
negative
(6)
Nichita Stanescu
(10)
Nick Montfort
(4)
Nina Cassian
(5)
nothing
(10)
number
(47)
number line
(3)
number theory
(6)
numbers
(50)
Numbers and Faces
(1)
numeral
(2)
numerals
(2)
numerical poem
(2)
numerology
(2)
obtuse
(3)
odd
(8)
odds
(2)
opposite
(8)
order
(4)
Oulipo
(18)
Pablo Neruda
(4)
palindrome
(7)
pantoum
(5)
parabola
(5)
parallel
(16)
parallels
(4)
pattern
(8)
Pennsylvania
(5)
perfect
(5)
perfect square
(1)
permutation
(18)
permutation-generator
(3)
perpendicular
(5)
plus
(4)
POETRY App
(2)
Poetry Foundation
(8)
POETRY Magazine
(3)
prime
(22)
prisoner's dilemma
(3)
probability
(7)
problem
(10)
problems
(2)
professor
(4)
proof
(15)
proposition
(4)
prose poem
(6)
puzzle
(9)
Pythagoras
(5)
Pythagorean
(2)
Pythagorean Theorem
(3)
Rachel Levy
(4)
Randall Munroe
(4)
random
(7)
rational
(6)
real number
(5)
recurrence
(2)
recursion
(5)
recursive
(4)
Rita Dove
(3)
Robert Dawson
(4)
Robin Chapman
(4)
Sandra DeLozier Coleman
(3)
Sarah Browning
(3)
Sarah Glaz
(29)
science
(10)
Scottish Cafe
(3)
septina
(1)
sestina
(9)
Sherman Alexie
(4)
Sherman Stein
(4)
Sophia Kovalevsky
(4)
Sophie Germain
(2)
sphere
(7)
square
(60)
square poem
(13)
square stanza
(5)
squaring the circle
(4)
statistics
(15)
STEM
(7)
Stephanie Strickland
(11)
Sue VanHattum
(5)
sum
(14)
symmetries
(2)
teach
(2)
teacher
(7)
theorem
(16)
Tragedy of the Commons
(3)
Wislawa Szymborska
(10)
woman
(19)
women
(19)
xkcd.com
(3)
zero
(30)