Sunday, March 30, 2014

Split This Rock 2014 was great!

Split this Rock's biennial 4-day poetry festival ended today and the air in Washington, DC is electric with the passion of engagement -- minds and bodies energized by fine poems that demand opportunity and justice for all.  I was glad to be there, participating in workshops and readings led by today's finest poetic voices

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Women's History -- celebrate Caroline Herschel

     In the sixties when I spent a year at Bucknell University, I was a member of the "Department of Astronomy and Mathematics," a pairing of related disciplines. In past centuries, Mathematics was included in the liberal arts. In the twenty-first century often it is paired with Computer Science, and Astronomy is paired with Physics.  And so it goes.
      Poems by Laura Long tell of the pioneering work by astronomer Caroline Herschel -- a discoverer of eight comets, a cataloger of stars.  Long describes her recent collection,  The Eye of Caroline Herschel:  A Life in Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2013), in this way:      
                  This is a work of the imagination steeped in historical siftings 
                         and the breath between the lines.  
Here is the opening poem:  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Homage to Euclid

In my preceding post (20 March 2014) Katharine Merow's poem tells of the new geometries 
developed with variations of Euclid's Parallel Postulate.  
Martin Dickinson's poem, on the other hand, tells of richness within Euclid's geometry.
Poet and attorney Martin Dickinson is with the Environmental Law Institute and is a long term activist. The Nora School Poetry Series has scheduled both of us (along with Michele Wolf) to be part of a reading next month on April 24, 2014 .  It is my additional good fortune that conversations with Dickinson have included his sharing with me this mathy poem:

     Homage to Euclid       by Martin Dickinson

     What points are these,
     visible to us, yet revealing something invisible—
     invisible, yet real? 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

One geometry is not enough

Writer Katharine Merow is in the Publications Department of the Washington DC headquarters of the MAA (Mathematical Association of America) and she is one of the poets who participated in the "Reading of Poetry with Mathematics" at JMM in Baltimore last January.  Here is the engaging poem Merow read at that event -- a poem that considers the 19th century development of new and "non-euclidean" geometries from variants of Euclid's fifth postulate, the so-called parallel postulate:

       Geometric Proliferation    by Katharine Merow

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Making something of nothing

     Was zero invented or discovered?  When and how?  By whom?  In "The Origin of Zero" -- an article published in 2009 in in Scientific American --  John Matson introduces an interesting history of zero (something vs. nothing and so on...).  Recently through the Splendid Wake poetry project (with an open-to-all meeting on Friday March 21 -- go here for details) I have connected with Washington DC poet William Rivera who has shared with me this poem that also examines the puzzle of the somethingness of nothing.

Nothing Changes Everything     by William Rivera

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tomorrow is Pi Day

     Tomorrow is Pi Day and I offer no new poems but supply links to several previous posts.  Poetry of π may be found on 23 August 2010 (an "irrational sonnet" by Jacques Bens),  6 September 2010 (featuring work by Kate Bush,  Robert Morgan and Wislawa Szymborska),  10 September 2010 (mnemonics for π, especially from Mike Keith) , 15 March, 2011,(a poem by Lana Hechtman Ayers)  27 November 2011 (a poem by Brian McCabe) and 10 March 2013 (the opening lines of a poem "3.141592 . . ." by Peter Meinke).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Tragedy of the Commons

Thinking in syllable-squares,
recalling ecologist Garrett Hardin (1915-2003)
and his 1968 wisdom, "Tragedy of the Commons."

may not be                   

Saturday, March 8, 2014

SHE measures the heavens . . .

Today is International Women's Day, celebrated with a charming video at and here with lines from Enheduanna (2285-2250 BCE), the earliest woman known to me who was both poet and mathematician.

     The true woman who possesses exceeding wisdom,
     She consults a tablet of lapis lazuli,
     She gives advice to all lands,
     She measures off the heavens, she places the
               measuring cords on the earth.

These lines (found in the preface, translated from Sumerian sources by Ake W Sjoberg and E Bergmann S J) and much more poetry-with-math are found in Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (AK Peters, 2008) -- a collection edited by Sarah Glaz and me.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A poetry album by Lucille Clifton

March is Women's History Month and here, today, I celebrate by acknowledging a special woman, Lucille Clifton (1936-2010).  From 1979–1985 Clifton served as Poet Laureate of Maryland.  Her poetry celebrates both her African-American heritage and her womanhood.  Here is "album," a poem in Clifton's spare and un-capitalized style -- and containing a few numbers to help us keep track of the times that are changing.

album     by Lucille Clifton

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sociology of Numbers

Robert Dawson is a mathematics professor at St Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia -- an active mathematician who complements his research activity with mathematics education and with poetry. The following Dawson poem appeared here in 2013 -- in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, a journal whose every issue contains some poetry-with-mathematics.

Some Contributions to the Sociology of Numbers     by Robert Dawson

The ones you notice first are the natural  numbers.
Everybody knows their names; they are the anchors,
the stars, the alphas, the reference points. And of course
the rational numbers, who hang out with them,
sit next to them in arithmetic class.