Thursday, July 1, 2010

Poetry with Mathematics -- Anthologies

More than thirty years ago at a mathematics conference book exhibit I stumbled upon Against Infinity:  An Anthology of Contemporary Mathematical Poetry, edited by Ernest Robson and Jet Wimp.  This collection, now out of print, became a resource for my mathematics courses--an opportunity for students to see the links between mathematics and the surrounding world.   One of my early loves was "Arithmetic Lesson:  Infinity" by Linda Pastan.  Found also in Carnival Evening, the poem opens with these these lines:

          Picture a parade of numbers:  1
          the sentry, out in front;
          dependent, monogamous 2;
          3 that odd man out, that 1 too many
          always trying to break into line.

Against Infinity introduced me to the work of Miroslav Holub (mentioned in an earlier posting).  Also I was charmed by Bernhard Frank's "Infinity":

                 C          C
          H           S           H
          A           N          A
                I            I

Used copies of this collection are rare--but look for it in a library.  It offers great variety and includes poems (such as Frank's, above) that I have not found elsewhere.

There are also other fine anthologies of poetry with mathematics.  These include:
          Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (A K Peters, 2008).  I am a co-editor of this collection, aide to Sarah Glaz, a mathematician (and poet) at the University of Connecticut.
          Imagination's Other Place:  Poems of Science and Mathematics (Thomas Y Crowell, 1955), edited by Helen Plotz.
          Verse & Universe:  Poems about Science and Mathematics (Milkweed Editions, 1998), edited by Kurt Brown.

Additional math-poetry resources may be found in my online paper "Mathematics in Poetry" or in these print-journal articles:  "Mathematics Influences Poetry" in the March 2008 issue of Journal of Mathematics and the Arts and  "What Poetry Is Found in Mathematics?  What Possibilities Exist for Its Translation" in the December 2009 issue of The Mathematical Intelligencer.  Readers who do not have access to these articles may contact me to request a PDF copy. With your request please include a brief description of the nature of your interests in the connections for mathematics and poetry.

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