Sunday, July 31, 2016

Loving the difference quotient ... and more ...

     From Philadelphia poet-mathematician, Marion Cohen, a new collection  -- Closer to Dying (Word Tech, 2016).  When I received the book a few days ago and began to read I did, of course, seek out mathy poems.  Two of these are included below. In this first poem Cohen has some fun with the terms and symbols of introductory calculus.  In the second, she tells of an encounter of the sort that happens to many mathematicians  -- meeting someone who supposes that mathematicians do what calculators do. (This link leads to a collection of mathy poems (including ones by Cohen) at talkingwriting,com.)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Homage to Godel

From Erica Jolly, an Australian poet and online friend, I have learned of a fine anthology of science poems --  A Quark for Mister Mark:  101 Poems about Science, edited by Maurice Riordan and Jon Turney (Faber and Faber, 2000).  A poem in that collection that was new to me -- and one I like a lot -- is "Homage to Gödel" by German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger; I offer it below.  This link leads to a thoughtful review (by Richard Dove) of Enzensberger's poetry -- one of Dove's observations is that thought processes fascinate Enzenberger; "Homage to Gödel" illustrates that fascination. 

     Homage to Gödel     by Hans Magnus Enzensberger  
(translated from German by the poet)

     'Pull yourself out of the mire
     by your own hair': Münchhausen's theorem
     is charming, but do not forget:
     the Baron was a great liar. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

One thing leads to another -- "Do the Math"

     I offer poetry workshops for Peer Wellness and Recovery Services -- and PWRS coordinator Miriam Yarmolinsky invited me to go with her to the very fine DC Fringe Festival event featuring Leah Harris --  and Leah is also a poet whose work I found in the anthology Word Warriors:  35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution  -- where I also found "Do the Math" -- a crowd-pleaser by a 2002 slam champion Meliza Bañales -- available here on YouTube and included belowEnjoy!

Do the Math       by Meliza Bañales

The equation goes something like this:
one white mother plus one brown father divided by two 
          different worlds
equals a daughter. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A number tells the story -- in these Haiku

     One of my neighbors, Carol, has been cleaning out bookshelves and offered me her old copy of Gary Snyder's collection,  The Back Country (New Directions, 1971) -- and in it I have found four pages of "Hitch Haiku."  Three of these little poems each depend on a number -- and I offer them below.
     A truck went by
                    three hours ago:
     Smoke Creek desert

Over the Mindano Deep             
                                                  Scrap brass
                                                                 dumpt off the fantail
                                                  falling six miles

     Stray white mare
                    neck rope dangling
     forty miles from farms.

Monday, July 18, 2016

String Theory

     String Theory is a theoretical framework that attempts to explain, among other things, quantum gravity.  Its basic elements are open and closed strings -- rather than point-like particles.  The poem "String Theory" by Ronald Wallace offers imaginative and thoughtful interplay between these strings of theoretical physics and the strings of musical instruments -- I found the poem at the VerseDaily website and Wallace has given me permission to use it here.

      String Theory     by Ronald Wallace

      I have to believe a Beethoven
      string quartet is not unlike
      the elliptical music of gossip:
      one violin excited
      to pass its small story along  

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Continue to celebrate Szymborska

If you are a frequent visitor to this blog, you know that Polish Nobelist (1996) Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012) is one of my favorite poets.  My Romanian friend Doru Radu, who now lives in Poland, visited New York recently and during my visit with him there he surprised me with a gift -- a posthumous bilingual Szymborska collection, Enough (Wydawnictwo a5, translated by Clare Cavanagh).  Here is the English version of a small poem with numbers from that collection:


          Twenty seven bones,
          thirty five muscles,
          around two thousand nerve cells
          in every tip of all five fingers.
          It's more than enough
          to write "Mein Kampf"
          or "Pooh Corner."

Links to additional postings of Szymborska's work may be found here.
Remember also to visit the wonderful Spring 2016 issue of TalkingWriting -- with its smorgasbord of mathy poems.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Remembering Reza Sarhangi

     In 1998 at Southwestern College in Winfield, KS an Iranian mathematician, Reza Sarhangi, organized the first of a series of annual Bridges conferences that celebrate the intersection of mathematics and the arts.  On July 1, 2016, this vital mathematician-artist passed away.  Many will celebrate the life of this warm and generous and talented man.
where you can learn a bit about Reza Sarhangi and about this year's conference in Finland. 
 Here is a link to an article by Sarhangi on Persian art -- indeed, it includes a poem. 
Sarhangi was at the time of his death, a professor at Towson University. 
 Here is a link to his informative Towson webpage which I hope the university will keep alive.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

What Math Teachers Do

     They ignore me.  I
     raise my hand -- wave it
     to ask questions, to
     offer answers -- but
     they call on the boys.
A 5x5 syllable-square of protest, from JoAnne Growney