Friday, May 29, 2015

Add and subtract to get . . . a minimalist poem

Thinking today of poet Bob Grumman (1941-2015) with special gratitude for the way he expanded my poetic horizons.  For example, he introduced me to this addition-subtraction minimalist poem by LeRoy Gorman -- called "the day":

                          un + s = up;
                          up - s = un.

More information about Gorman and several more poetry samples are available here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Galileo in Florence

Poetry found in the words of Galileo Galilei (1564-1642):

"Philosophy is written in this grand book,
the universe, which stands continually
open to our gaze. 

But the book cannot be understood unless one first 

learns to comprehend the language and read the letters
in which it is composed.

It is written in the language of mathematics,

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In the Tuscan sun

in Pisa
of Fibonacci,
mathematician in the sun.  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sonnets from The Voyage of the Beagle

 The sonnet is a song of the body as well as of the mind:
14 breaths    
5 heartbeats each breath

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to be part of a poetry reading that also featured Rick Mullin -- who serves science as an editor of the Chemical and Engineering News -- and whose latest poetry book is a collection of sonnets that offer a magical and musical retelling of  Darwin's voyage -- in Sonnets from The Voyage of the Beagle (Dos Madres Press, 2014). Here are two selections from that collection -- the opening sonnet (first of a triptych) and a later one that features geometry of birds.

     After Uranus     by Rick Mullin
      On reading Richard Holmes 


     There was an age when poetry and science
     shared the province of discovery,
     when Coleridge wished he's studied chemistry
     and Humphry Davy, in exact defiance
     of the Royal Society, blew things up.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Folk music -- counting syllables

Learn about and support Women in Mathematics.  
One place to do that is here

Using 4x4 and 2x2 syllable-squares, I emphasize the counting that lies behind folk music in the following selection from "Some Walls" (lyrics by Mary Ann Kennedy, Pamela Rose, Randy Sharp -- but line breaks are mine), recorded by Peter, Paul, and Mary:

          Some walls

          Some walls are made
          of stone.  Sometimes
          we build our own.
          Some walls can stand 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Stars and men revolve in a cycle . . .

In a book-discussion group in which I participate, we are reading some of the short fiction of Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) and that reading has provoked me to dive again into my copy of his Selected Poems (Ed. Alexander Coleman, Penguin, 1999).  Here is one of Borges' poems that uses terminology from mathematics:

The Cyclical Night     by Jorge Luis Borges
                                             tr. Alistair Reid (1926-2014)
          to Sylvina Bullrich

 They knew it, the fervent pupils of Pythagoras:
 That stars and men revolve in a cycle,
 That fateful atoms will bring back the vital
 Gold Aphrodite, Thebans, and agoras. 

Friday, May 8, 2015

Include Arts in STEM -- and have STEAM !

Welcome to this blog where we support STEAM !

 math-student, performance-poet Harry Baker's 
"A love poem for lonely prime numbers"

A bit more about Harry Baker can be found in this May 23, 2014 posting
In May 2015 visit Takoma Park Community Center Galleries for a STEAM exhibit organized by visual artist and poetry-lover Shanthi Chandrasekar.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Balancing Opposites -- Tagore's Epigrams

Many important mathematical ideas occur as pairs of opposites:
         -2 and +2 (additive inverses), 5 and 1/5 (multiplicative inverses),  
         bounded and unbounded, rational and irrational, 
         convergent and divergent, finite and infinite
Some other familiar mathematical notions occur often in contrasting pairs but are not fully opposites:
         horizontal and vertical, positive and negative, 
         open and closed, perpendicular and parallel

Recently I have returned to reading work by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1931; Bengal, India;  winner of the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature) and I enjoy reflecting on contrasts posed by this reflective poet in a series of "Epigrams":

Epigrams      by Rabindranath Tagore

I will close my door to shut out all possible errors.
"But how am I to enter in?" cried Truth.  

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Lines of breathless length

Brief reflections on definitions of LINE . . .

          Breathless length     by JoAnne Growney

          A LINE, said Euclid, lies evenly
          with the points on itself
          that is, it’s straight –-
          and Euclid did (as do my friends)
          named points as its two ends.

          The LINE of modern geometry

          escapes these limits
          and stretches to infinity.
          Just as unbounded lines
          of poetry.