Friday, September 9, 2016

Division by Zero

     At Victoria University in Melbourne, novelist, playwright and poet Tom Petsinis also teaches mathematics.  He participated in the 2016 Bridges Math-Arts Conference in Finland this summer:  here are two of his poems from the 2016 Bridges Poetry Anthology -- and each of them plays with mathematical ideas in new and thoughtful (sometimes amusing) ways.   "Zeno's Paradox" follows this initial poem(Names and links for other anthology poets are given below.)

     Division by Zero     by Tom Petsinis

     She could’ve been our grandmother
     Warning us of poisonous mushrooms ‒
     To stress her point she'd scratch
     The taboo bold with crimson chalk.
     It should never be used to divide,
     Or we'd be howled from lined yard
     To pit where cruel paradoxes ruled.
     Her warnings tempted us even more:
     Young, growing full in confidence,
     We’d prove the impossible for fun ‒
     Nothing she said could restrain us
     From showing two is equal to one.   

          Zeno’s Paradox     by Tom Petsinis

          One with the shadow of this olive tree
          I am also recreating myself ‒
          Just as the ocean contracts to a shell
          On which it counts every seventh wave,
          Or as wind curves the albatross’s wing
          To set a limit on its own freedom,
          Or dreams refine themselves as pure logic
          To prove a solution doesn't exist.

          And if I’ve walked half my allotted life
          To reach the tip of this peninsula,
          My death is there, sharp as the horizon,
          A dream approached but never realised.

          When I think of infinite division
          Nature is made more eternal through me.

          I will never reach the end of this line.

     Two more of Petsinis's poem appear in 2016 Bridges Poetry Anthology; the anthology also contains  work by other mathy poets, including these Amy Uyematsu, Stephanie Strickland, Manfred Stern, Vera Schwarcz, Eveline Pye, Deanna Nikaido, Mike Naylor, Dan May, Kaz Maslanka, Alice Major, Larry Lesser, Gizem Karaali, Philip Holmes, JoAnne Growney, Emily Grosholz, Sarah Glaz, Carol Dorf, Francisco Jose Craveiro de Carvalho, Marion Deutsche Cohen, Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya, Mike Bartholomew-Biggs, and Madhur Anand.  
     This blog's SEARCH feature can be used to find poems by these and other poets on a host of mathematical topics.

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