Thursday, August 11, 2016

More from BRIDGES poets . . .

     The 2016 BRIDGES Math-Arts Conference is currently taking place at the University of Jyväskylä in Jyväskylä, Finland.  Poets on this year's program include: Manfred Stern, Vera Schwarcz, Eveline Pye, Tom Petsinis, Mike Naylor, Alice Major, Emily Grosholz, Carol Dorf, Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya, Madhur Anand and the organizer, Sarah Glaz.
      Although he is not a participant in this year's BRIDGES, the name of Portuguese mathematician, poet, and translator Francisco José Craveiro de Carvalho appears near the top of the conference's poetry page for his translation of these lines that have become a sort of motto for BRIDGES poetry:

             Newton's binomial is as beautiful as Venus de Milo.
             What happens is that few people notice it.

                        --Fernando Pessoa (as Álvaro de Campos)
                          translated from the Portuguese by Francisco Craveiro  

     I have never met Francisco in person, but he and I have become friends via this blog -- and he has directed me to a number of wonderful mathy poems.  Today I give you some of his own work -- two poems that soon will be available in a 2016 BRIDGES Poetry Anthology.  

Two poems by Francisco José Craveiro de Carvalho
 Translated from the Portuguese by Sarah Glaz and the author

       Negative numbers

       Because he understood mathematics,
       he thought he can teach
       other children.

       One day in class he shared his
       solutions to simple cases of
       first order equations.

       Shame set his face on fire when
       the teacher scolded him
       for showing off.

       We grow as we  go. He learned how
       to handle negative numbers
       early in life.

                                             A circle
                                             comes complete
                                             with its
                                             own grave.        
“Geometry” by Richard Brautigan
              If I understand
              Brautigan’s thought
              every closed curve
              comes complete
              with its
              own grave.
              This is best seen
              in a circle
              because a circle is perfect.

Francisco tells this story of the history of his interest in poetry:   While on a sabbatical at Leeds University, he came across the poem "Einstein" by Katharine O'Brien. This event sparked his interest in the connection between mathematics and poetry and led to his publication ainsÓniadefibOnacci, an anthology of O'Brien's poems translated into Portuguese. He has also translated into Portuguese a variety of work by other poets.

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