A few days ago, on August 21, it was Poet's Day in New Zealand and the blog sciencelens.com featured a math-poetry theme; that posting mentions the anthology, Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics (for which Sarah Glaz and I are co-editors) and offers several Fibs, poems whose syllable-counts follow the first six non-zero Fibonacci numbers (1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, . . .., with each succeeding number the sum of the two preceding).
Friday, August 31, 2012
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
In a playfully serious volume of verses by Eugene Ostashevsky we meet his alter ego, the "new philosopher" DJ Spinoza. With the intelligence and bravery of the other philosopher-Spinoza (Baruch / Benedict, 1632 - 1677), Ostachevsky's Spinoza pokes a bit of fun at things that might be taken too seriously -- such as logic or mathematics or . . .
Saturday, August 25, 2012
From the 2005 Summer issue of from Prairie Schooner we have this haunting poem by Diane Mehta about the unknown probabilities of life and not-life.
1 in 300 by Diane Mehta
To lose at science is the accident of trying,
for worse or, best, acceptable ways cells divide
then swell into heart, spleen, spine
for every satisfaction, and love also aligned
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Phyllis Diller (1917-20120), outspoken and funny, pioneering female comedian, died Monday, August 20. Her self-deprecating humor was hugely hilarious -- and it helped the rest of us also not to take ourselves too seriously.In honor of Phyllis Diller and humor, I first offer a link to a "poem" from a favorite math-cartoonist -- Randall Munroe offers an amusing rhyming critique of the various majors (including math) available to undergraduates -- at xkcd.com. And, below, I share several slightly funny math jokes adapted from ones found at Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks and shaped into 4x4 or 5x5 syllable-square poems.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
When my friend Kay and I visited the National Museum of the American Indian Museum in Washington last Wednesday, August 15, we particularly enjoyed the exhibit entitled "A Song for the Horse Nation." These displays explore the role of horses in Native American lives through stories and artifacts, through music and art. Shown below is a photo of a sign that hangs in the exhibit. I first intended to use the text on the sign -- with its many numbers -- as raw material for a poem. But, as I have reviewed the sign since my visit -- including reading it aloud -- I have decided it is already a poem. Here it is, for you:
Thursday, August 16, 2012
One of the delights of investigation -- in library books or on the internet or walking about in the world -- is that one bit of information opens doors to lots of others. And so, as I was learning about Eleanor Graham for Monday's posting, I found her essay entitled "The first time I saw Carl Sandburg he didn't see me" and was reminded in a new way of the ongoing debate about the value of formal constraints in poetry.
Monday, August 13, 2012
One of my poetry collections is a particular treasure because of its history. My aunt, Ruth Margaret Simpson Robinson, graduated (as I also did) from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. At Westminster, a Chi Omega sorority sister of Aunt Ruth was Eleanor Graham Vance (1908-1985) who became a teacher and a writer; one of her biographical sketches mentions that she wrote for both children and adults, seeing many similarities between them. Aunt Ruth passed on to me her personally-inscribed copy of Eleanor Graham's 1939 collection, For These Moments, and in it I have found a poem with a tiny bit of arithmetic. I offer it here to you.
Friday, August 10, 2012
This poem by recent (2008-2010) poet laureate Kay Ryan at first made me think of calculus, of integration, summing all the thin slices to find the area under a curve. And then the poem moved me on.
Monday, August 6, 2012
One of my favorite DC-area poet-people is Yvette Neisser Moreno -- who, besides giving us her own work, is active in translation of Spanish-language poetry into English, most recently (with Patricia Bejarano Fisher) a Spanish and English edition of Venezuelan poet Maria Teresa Ogliastri’s South Pole/Polo Sur (Settlement House, 2011). Although I have not found any mathematical poems by Moreno, I learned from an interview that the Chilean Nobelist Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) is her favorite poet and I therefore present here the geometrically vivid opening opening stanza of Part XI of Neruda's well-known long poem, The Heights of Macchu Pichu: A Bilingual Edition (The Noonday Press, 1966).
Friday, August 3, 2012
In the wake of the BRIDGES math-art conference at Towson University last week I also want to mention the lively blog posting about BRIDGES by Justin Lanier at Math Munch.