Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tomorrow is Halloween

Typing Halloween in this blog's SEARCH Box will lead you to a 2010 posting of "Ghost Stories Written"  -- an algebra-related poem by Charles Simic;  this Poetry Foundation link will lead to a host of other seasonal poems.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Counting into the Future . . .

     Remember that you have only until November 1 to submit a winning "poem of provocation and witness" to the Split This Rock Poetry Contest.  If you don't already,  you will want also to subscribe to Split This Rock's Poem of the WeekThis week's poem ("Past Tense" by Sam Taylor) opens with these numbers:

       In the Great Depression of 2047,
       a time of sorrow rivaled only
       by the Global Unification Wars
       of Spring 2029 to 2033,
       in the Merlona Plague of 2104, 
       in the year of the forest die-off,
       after the atmospheric hue reduction . . . .

From Nude Descending an Empire (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014).  Apatelodes merlona is a species of moth.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dimensions of Discovery

Along the one-dimensional straight line
there are points and segments
but no curves or squares.
In the flat plane of two dimensions 
there are points and segments 
and circles and squares.
In the vast space of three dimensions 
there are points and segments 
and squares and spheres.
In a space of four dimensions 
there is more than 
we can imagine.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ABC of statistics

     Songwriter Larry Lesser is a co-organizer (with Gizem Karaali) of a poetry-with-mathematics reading at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Antonio next January.  And sometimes Lesser writes poetry.  He has told me that his poem below was in response to an abecedarian poem in a 2006 paper of mine, "Mathematics of Poetry" published in the online journal JOMA -- and available here.

Statistic Acrostic   by Lawrence Mark Lesser and Dennis K. Pearl


Monday, October 20, 2014

Martin Gardner collected poems

     Last week the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) had a special program honoring Martin Gardner (1914-2010); tomorrow (October 21) is the 100th anniversary of his birth.   The shelving in the MAA meeting room displayed copies of many of Gardner's approximately one hundred books.  However, none of the books displayed were books of poetry and, indeed, Gardner referred to himself as "an occasional versifier" but not a poet.  Nonetheless he helped to popularize OULIPO techniques in his monthly (1956-81) Scientific American column, "Mathematical Games," and he also was a collector and editor of anthologies, parodies, and annotated versions of familiar poetic works.  Here is a link to his Favorite Poetic Parodies.  And one may find Famous Poems from Bygone Days and The Annotated Casey at the Bat and half a dozen other titles by searching at using "martin gardner poetry." 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Poetry Reading 1-11-15 at JMM in San Antonio

You are invited to a poetry reading 
sponsored by the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics
Gonzalez Convention Center   Room 205  San Antonio, Texas
Sunday, January 11, 2015, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m. 

     All poets who write of mathematics and all who are interested in mathematical poetry are invited. Join the gathering to share poems and to enjoy the company of like-minded poetic-math people!  The reading is sponsored by the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics  and will be hosted by Gizem Karaali and Larry Lesser.    
     Although last-minute decisions to participate are possible -- you may simply show up and sign up to read -- we invite and encourage poets to submit poetry (≤ 3 poems, ≤ 5 minutes) and a bio in advance, and, as a result, be listed on our printed program. Inquiries and submissions (by December 1, 2014) may be made to Gizem Karaali (

Friday, October 10, 2014

Taken out of context . . .

Sometimes good lines fit so well into their poems that their individual merits go unrecognized.  And then, taken out of context, they can lead lives of their own.  Here is a start for a collection of such lines.

From here are two lines from "Ceriserie" by Joshua Clover:   

       Mathematics: Everyone rolling dice and flinging Fibonacci, going to the opera, counting everything.

       Fire: The number between four and five.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Love Physics

It turns out that one of the disadvantages of a long-term blog with lots of worthy material is that sometimes I lose track of fine work that I want to post.  And sometimes I find it again.  This morning I came across this poem by California conservationist Richard Retecki.

     Love Physics     by Richard Retecki

     equal forces
     oppositely directed
     canceled to zero

     then we tricked you
     exchanging pressure for light 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Can poetry change the climate for frogs?

      Poems affect our spirits as well as our minds. And Split This Rock is looking for poems that protest and witness, world-changing poems.  Go here for information about their Eighth Annual Poetry Contest (with submission deadline November 1, 2014).
     Here in this blog, as I present connections between poetry and mathematics, I provide some poems of protest and advocacy.  I advocate attention to problems of climate change -- to keep our world habitable; I advocate full recognition of women in the sciences -- for a not dissimilar reason.  We must not waste our resources.