Friday, July 5, 2013

Grandma got STEM

     There are so many fine websites to visit and blogs to read that it is hard to get to them all. One of my recent pleasures has been Grandma Got STEM (STEM  = Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), orchestrated by Rachel Levy, Harvey Mudd College, Mathematics.  Recent entries there that I've enjoyed are Martha Siegel (Towson University, Mathematics) and Carol Jo Crannell (mother of Annalisa Crannell, Franklin and Marshall College, Mathematics and Art).
     For a while I wondered how I might link these STEM pioneers to poetry and this morning was delighted to discover in a bio of poet Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge that her Chinese mother was a mathematician.  And these initial stanzas of Berssenbrugge's poem "Tan Tien" illustrate her familiarity with mathematical vocabulary.

Tan Tien     by Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge

As usual, the first gate was modest. It is dilapidated. She can’t tell
which bridge crossed the moat, which all cross sand now, disordered with footsteps.
It’s a precise overlay of circles on squares, but she has trouble locating
the main avenue and retraces her steps in intense heat for the correct entrance,
which was intentionally blurred, the  way a round arch can give onto a red wall,
far enough in back of the arch for sun to light.

If being by yourself separates from your symmetry, which is
the axis of your spine in the concrete sense, but becomes a suspension
in your spine like a layer of sand under the paving stones of a courtyard
or on a plain, you have to humbly seek out a person who can listen to you,
on a street crowded with bicycles at night, their bells ringing.

     .  .  .

The final five stanzas of  "Tan Tien" are available here at the Poetry Foundation website.  More of Berssenbrugge's poems are available at that site and also here.

No comments:

Post a Comment