Thursday, July 16, 2015

Celebrating Ada Lovelace

Recently I have purchased the anthology, Raising Lilly Ledbetter:  Women Poets Occupying the Workplace (edited by Caroline Wright, M.L. Lyons & Eugenia Toledo, Lost Horse Press, 2015), and have found in it dozens of wonderful poems, including several that celebrate women of science.  Below I offer a poem by New York poet Jo Pitkin that honors Ada Lovelace (1815-1852).  

Bird, Moon, Engine     by Jo Pitkin

Like a fence or a wall to keep me from harm,
tutors circled me with logic, facts, theorems.
But I hid the weeds growing wild in my mind.

By age five, I could plot the arc of a rainbow.
I could explain perpendicular and parallel.
In my mind, I heard the wind in wild weeds. 

Divided in two, my wiry system flew, flew.
I let those weeds wild in my mind unfold
as my unmet father's art seeped like rain.

Mother, Father, my mind finally loosed
its dark tangle of weeds.  From drawings,
I milled notes lettered A to G for an unbuilt

machine that would compute loss and gain --
and reconciled my territorial heart, my brain. 

Augusta Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852)
was the daughter of British poet George Gordon, Lord Byron.  A gifted mathematician, 
she wrote a set of complex instructions for Charles Babbage's proposed Analytical Machine,
 creating the world's first computer program.

Those of us in the Washington, DC area may hear Pitkin read from her work at the Joaquin Miller Cabin Poetry Reading in Rock Creek Park on Sunday, July 26, 2015.  Details here.

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