Thursday, May 31, 2012

Arithmetic of war

     In his poem, "Arithmetic on the Frontier," Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) wrote of Britain's nineteenth century military aggression in Afghanistan.  His words remind us of important questions:  what is the cost of a life lost in battle?  are some lives cheap and some more dear?
     Arithmetic on the Frontier     by Rudyard Kipling

     A great and glorious thing it is
         To learn, for seven years or so,
     The Lord knows what of that and this,
         Ere reckoned fit to face the foe --
     The flying bullet down the Pass,
     That whistles clear: "All flesh is grass."

Monday, May 28, 2012

Remembering Israel Lewis Schneider

     On Monday, October 17, 2011, Israel Lewis Schneider (1924-2011) --  Silver Spring poet and mechanical engineer -- passed away.  I did not learn of this death until yesterday -- when my colleague, Sarah Glaz, let me know that an e-mail to him had bounced back and I went online searching for him.
     It has been my pleasure to get to know "Lew" (who published poetry under the name, Israel Lewis) at local poetry readings where we connected over our common interest in poetry-with-mathematics.  Lew's poem, "I Find My Faith in the Flatness of Space," appeared in the anthology Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (edited by Glaz and me) and his poem for two voices, "Cantor:  Not Eddie,"  appeared here in this blog on 24 July 2010.  Shortly after that July posting, Lew sent another poem for my review.  To celebrate the life of this kind, funny, and very talented man, I offer here that poem -- with its playful examination of mathematical and other identities -- "Who Steals My Trash . . . ":  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Crocheting mathematics

Charlotte Henderson majored in mathematics and English at Wellesley College and has applied her dual interests as an editor for A K Peters, Ltd (a science and technology publisher that is now part of CRC Press).  Several manuscripts on which she has worked at A K Peters have drawn her to the connections between mathematics and art, including needlework. She is particularly interested in the diverse possibilities of crochet, which she learned after working on Daina Taimina's book, Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes.   Charlotte has turned this interest into art and into a poem: 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Taking Stock

Developing an inventory -- of what we have or have experienced, of what we see or imagine -- inevitably involves numbers and counting.  As in "Inventory" by Canadian poet Colin Morton, an adaptation or "free translation" of  "Inventaire" by Jacques Prevert.  Morton has a strong connection to mathematics --  his son is a mathematician at the Technical University of Lisbon.

  Inventory       by Colin Morton

  one lump of rock
  two houses
  three ruined foundations
  four gravediggers
  one garden
  some flowers

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Before calculators we did more counting!

One of many sources of good poetry online is American Life in Poetry, collected by former U S Poet Laureate Ted Kooser.  In Column 368, Kooser offers "Numbers" by New Jersey poet, Jared Harel (first published Fall 2010 in The Cold Mountain Review).  Kooser's introduction notes, "My mother kept a handwritten record of every cent she spent from the day she and my father were married until the day she died. So it’s no wonder I especially like this poem  . . . " 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Natural numbers

     My just-previous posting tells of a Monday poetry reading I was able to attend.  On Monday, May 14, a poetry reading took place that I wanted to attend but missed; poet Gary Snyder read at the Folger Shakespeare Library
     Written in the 1950s and read by him here on YouTube, Gary Snyder's poem, "Hay for the Horses," involves a mathematical calculation: 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Poetry in DC -- counting sheep

The Washington, DC area offers a rich diversity of poetry events -- workshops and readings, contests and conferences.  An excellent way to find out what's happening is through the online listing, Beltway Poetry News, maintained by editor and poet Kim Roberts.  One of the very active DC poetry organizations is The Word Works whose board chairperson, Karren Alenier, is also a fine poet. 

Last week I enjoyed one of Karren's readings -- at Café Muse in Friendship Heights Village Center.  On May 7 Karren read from her recent collection, On a Bed of Gardenias:  Jane and Paul Bowles (Kattywompus Press, 2012).  These poems were exciting to hear --  they are part of an opera libretto that Karren is working on -- but not mathematical; thus, I turn back to one of her earlier poems, "Dialectic of the Census Takers," for presentation here. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ode to Alan Turing

In this week of announcements in the US about evolving views concerning human sexual preferences, it seems fit to offer a second poem (see also May 9) honoring British code-breaker and computer scientist, Alan Turing (1912-1954).  Here is "Ode to Alan Turing"  by Saskatchewan poet, Mari-Lou Rowley

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A toast to Alan Turing

     Alan Turing (1912-1954) committed suicide at the age of 42. He was brilliant, arguably the best computer scientist of the twentieth century.  He is perhaps most famous for his code-breaking work at Bletchley Park during WWII; but he also made enormous significant contributions to the emerging fields of artificial intelligence and computing. And Alan Turing was gay. 
     More prose details will follow -- but first a poem for Turing by UK poet Matt Harvey

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A square -- for everyone!

all     all

all     all

This square pun by Aram Saroyan appears in his Complete Minimal Poems  (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2007).  Other Saroyan poems may be found in the posts for 9 November 2010  and 30 November 2010 .

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pipher -- Math experiments, Pi

     'Tis a favorite project of mine
     A new value of pi to assign.
          I would fix it at 3
          For it's simpler, you see,
     Than 3 point 1  4  1  5  9.