*****The Danish poet, Inger Christensen (1935-2009), wrote a book-length poem, alphabet (New Directions, 2000) in which the numbers of lines in stanzas followed the sequence of Fibonacci numbers. "Fibonacci," shown below, by Judith Baumel is a shorter example of this form.

Introduced in 2006 by Gregory K Pincus on his GottaBook blogsite and featured in the

*NY Time*s and a host of Internet sites is a 6-line poem-form called the FIB-- whose lines have the numbers of syllables specified by the first six non-zero Fibonacci numbers: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8. Such a form emphasizes the "puzzle" aspect of writing poetry--as the writer tries one word after another in search not only of meaning but meaning that fits the form. Here are two sample FIBS:

New

shoes:

stylish,

hazardous,

uncomfortable—

designed to keep women in place.

air,

trees,

water,

fossil fuels—

we use resources

carelessly--what of tomorrow?

Judith Baumel teaches at Adelphi University; her poem "Fibonacci"--in which the subject matter aptly matches the form--is from

*The Weight of Numbers*(Wesleyan University Press, 1988). It also appears in

*Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics*, (A K Peters, 2008).

**Fibonacci**

*for Abraham Baumel*

Call it windfall

finding your calculation

come, finally,

to the last decimal point of pi.

In the silence of January snow

a ladybug survives the frost

and appears on the window pane.

She drawls a tiny space.

Hesitant. Reverses. Forward,

like a random-number generator,

the walking computer frog

who entertains mathematicians.

Think of the complexity

of temperature, quantification

of that elusive quality “heat.”

Tonight, for instance,

your hands are colder than mine.

Someone could measure

more precisely than we

the nature of this relationship.

Learn the particular strength

of the Fibonacci series,

a balanced spiraling

outward of shapes,

those golden numbers

which describe dimensions

of sea shells, rams’ horns,

collections of petals

and generations of bees.

A formula to build

your house on,

the proportion most pleasing

to the human eye.

*****Fibonacci (c 1170 - c 1250) was an Italian mathematician whose popularization of a particular number sequence is the best known of his accomplisments. The Fibonacci sequence of numbers begins with 0 and 1 and each succeeding number is the sum of the two preceding; so we have 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, ... . A webpage maintained by Dr. Ron Knott lists a host of applications, including not only the original problem that Fibonacci investigated ( counting rabbits ) but also the occurrences of these numbers in plant growth--in patterns of petals and leaves.

One more fascinating Fibonacci item: poet and novelist Sherman Alexie has a clever Fibonacci number poem entitled "Requiem for a Pay Phone."

Thanks for the Fib shout-out. I love mixing math and poetry, and I'm endlessly fascinated by all the variations folks come up with even just combining Fibonacci and poetry let alone all the other math influenced forms. Good times, indeed!

ReplyDeleteThanks for your comments--and for the considerable publicity your blog has attracted to "math-poetry." For additional ideas concerning math-influenced forms, take a look at the tetrahedral pantoum in my April 8 posting, "Braided lines form a pantoum," or follow the link in the April 9 posting about baseball to sample some square poems.

ReplyDeleteHandful of Stars

ReplyDelete~

Fib- poetry

I

held

a hand-

full of stars,

a palm of live wires,

glowing red like an x-ray

tiny fragments of light building energy

nudging, crevasses between fingers particles free

and

race

into

the night sky

shooting in reverse

to original position

taking wishes of the night from lovers' lips,

casting them back to a time before they fell in love.

Fibonacci poem - doubled