Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Growing lines . . .

 Maximizing Meaning (maybe)

will fit on this
single line segment?


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Zero Power

To neutralize the differing effects of any non-zero numbers -- to wipe out vast differences between numbers -- we may raise each of them to the power zero.*  When 0 is applied as the exponent for any nonzero number, the result is 1.  So 70 = 1 and 5378 0 = 1 and (.001)0 = 1.   And here are "zero power" and other mathematical concepts interpreted in a poem.

     N to the Zero Power     by Laurie Clemens

     He holds one photograph
     featuring one man and one woman.

     Three birds perch on two wires
     forming an isosceles triangle over the last
     red brick street in town.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Geometry of a hawk's flight

One of the poets featured in the current Poetic Likeness Exhibit -- featuring photographs and paintings and sculptures of poets along with a few favorite lines -- at the National Portrait Gallery is Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989).   Although I hugely admire Warren's novel, All the King's Men, I am not very familiar with Warren as a poet.  The gallery posted, beside Warren's photo, a few lines about a hawk.  And I went searching online to find more.  The exhibit's quote was from Warren's "Mortal Limit" but my search led first to "Evening Hawk" -- with a first stanza bright with geometry;  I offer that stanza here.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day, 2013

     OUR earth is finite. 
     Its resources are
     finite. No clever
     transformation can

     convert the
     finite to

     We must
     learn to


And, here is a link to a previous Earth Day posting.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Counting the seconds . . .

During these difficult days of fear and explosions -- in Boston and West, Texas and where next? -- I have turned to my copy of View with a Grain of Sand (Harcourt Brace, 1993) by Polish Nobelist Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012) to find "The Terrorist, He's Watching."  Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh, this moving poem of numbers and tension also appears in Szymborska's 1976 collection, A Large Number

The Terrorist, He’s Watching     by Wislawa Szymborska

The bomb in the bar will explode at thirteen twenty.
Now it’s just thirteen sixteen.
There’s still time for some to go in,
and some to come out.  

Friday, April 19, 2013

A poem for your pocket

April is National Poetry Month.
April is National Mathematics Awareness Month.
Today, April 19, is Poem-in-Your-Pocket Day.
Here is a mathy poem that will fit in your pocket.

       14 Syllables     by JoAnne Growney

       A hen lays eggs
       one by one;
       the way you
       count life
       is life.

The poem "14 Syllables" is collected in Red Has No Reason (Plain View Press, 2010).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Truth and Beauty

     In both mathematics and poetry, truth and beauty are linked.  The true is likely to be beautiful, the beautiful is considered likely to be true.  
     Early in April I visited an interdisciplinary mathematics-and-literature class at Arcadia College to talk with them about some of the ways mathematics influences poetry.  The course I visited was was aptly titled "Truth and Beauty."  Thanks to Marion Cohen -- mathematician, poet, and course professor -- and to her students for the enjoyable time we had together.     
     Today, thinking back to that Arcadia class, I offer a translation of a poem by Romanian poet Marin Sorescu (1936-1996) which links the mathematics of counting to the literary god, Shakespeare.  Enjoy. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Neglecting important numbers

Not Getting It     by JoAnne Growney


want to
be cool.

We want cool
rooms, drinks. With
cool mindsets 

we “forget” that 
we said, we’ll cut
emissions of
greenhouse gases 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Light and laws, letters and numbers

     We viewers of the world see it through a variety of lenses -- for some of us music shapes our view, for others it is color, for others history; still others see through a lens of mathematics  -- perhaps geometry, or number, or randomization or . . .
     The Greek Nobelist (1979), poet, and essayist Odysseus Elytis (1911-1996) was once nicknamed "the sun-drinking poet" for views seen in The Axion Este / Worthy It Is.   A sample from this collection, "They Came," is offered below -- this poem is not only rich in the imagery of light but also pays tribute to geometry and numbers.   

Monday, April 8, 2013

"Sustainable" in a poem

As I have mentioned previously, April is National Poetry Month and also Mathematics Awareness Month -- and the mathematical focus is "Mathematics of Sustainability."  To try to connect these April celebrations, I went to the website  www.Poets.org  and searched for a poem containing the word "sustainability."  There I found  "Patience" by Kay Ryan which contains these lines:

       Who would
       have guessed
       it possible
       that waiting
       is sustainable
       a place with
       its own harvests.    

Please go here to Poets.org to read Ryan's entire poem.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Miroslav Holub -- interview, poems

Frequent readers of this blog probably know that Miroslav Holub is one of my favorite poets.  And it was a great delight to get a recent e-mail message with a link to a previously unpublished 1994 interview with this scientist and poet -- appearing in the April 2 posting in the Virginia Quarterly Review blog.  The interview, conducted and written by Irene Blair Honeycutt, has these opening sentences:     "Miroslav Holub (1923–1998) is one of the most internationally well-known Czech poets. He led a career as a scientist, and his poetry is known for its sharpness and wit, as well as descriptions of aging and suffering." 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

April is . . .

April is National Mathematics Awareness Month.  The theme is SUSTAINABILITY and some ideas for learning and doing may be found here (including a rich selection of essays).
April is National Poetry Month.  One of the month's special events is a poetry contest (open to all) sponsored by the Arlington Library.  Poems for the contest are to be formed from stacked titles of CDs or books and then photographed for display.  For example: