Monday, November 28, 2016

Celebrate MATH-POETRY at JMM (1-5-17) in Atlanta

     Repeating what has become an annual tradition, the Joint Mathematics Meetings of 2017 in Atlanta will include a poetry reading. 

Thursday January 5, 2017, 5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
Regency Ballroom VII, Ballroom Level, Hyatt Regency

Here is info about the reading and how to participate:     Poetry + Math, organized by Gizem Karaali, Pomona College; Lawrence M. Lesser, University of Texas at El Paso; and Douglas Norton, Villanova University; Thursday, January 5, 5:30–7:00 pm.  All who are interested in mathematical poetry and/or mathematical art are invited. Though we do not discourage last-minute decisions to participate, we invite and encourage poets to submit poetry (no more than three poems, no longer than five minutes) and a bio in advance—and, as a result, be listed on our printed program. Inquiries and submissions (by December 15, 2016) may be made to Gizem Karaali ( Sponsors for this event are the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics and SIGMAA ARTS.  A complete program for the Mathematics Meetings is available here.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Number-rhymes from Muriel Spark

     A dozen years ago I visited Edinburgh and there became acquainted with the poetry of Scottish writer Muriel Spark (1918-2006)  -- prior to that visit I had known Spark only as a novelist.  Today -- prompted by Thanksgiving celebration with grandchildren -- I have remembered an English rhyme that my own grandmother teased me with in childhood, "Going to St Ives" and, from there, I've recalled a pair of Spark's rhymes that follow a similar pattern.  I offer them below; despite strong rhyme, these are not entirely light fare--instead, they make us aware of the sad multiplication of bonds and wounds . . .

       Conundrum     by Muriel Spark

       As I was going to Handover Fists
       I met a man with seven wrists.
       The seven wrists had seven hands;

Monday, November 21, 2016

An immeasurable continuum

This poem by Emily Warn (a founder of uses mathematical terminology to introduce us to the immeasurable horror of death by slow torture.  May our nation never again engage in such atrocities!

The Vanishing Point     by Emily Warn

You slow down to watch cumulus clouds stream across the
sky. You choose a more circuitous route home and pass a
tree with white bags tied around random apples. The apples
remind you of clouds, how each hangs in the sky, singular
yet part of a flock. Each item in the flock is a coordinate of
earth and sky, enumerating space. The flocks of apples and
clouds are actual infinities, an endless collection of discrete
items that one can conceivably count to the end. This is

Friday, November 18, 2016

A well-constructed language

     California math teacher, poet and editor, Carol Dorf is a vital force in the production and dissemination of mathy poems.  A blog SEARCH using her name will find links to all of my mentions of her activity.  Here is one such link --  to my list of titles of mathy poems in Talking-Writing, an online journal for which Dorf is poetry editor.    Dorf's poem below speaks of Ada Lovelace, a math-woman who has been featured herein on July 16, 2015  and September 18, 2015.

Mathematics is "a well-constructed language."
 Dorf's "Ada" first appeared in Volume 14 of The Mom Egg Review.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Poetry and Protest

      One of the fine new anthologies of 2016 is Of Poetry and Protest:  From Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, published by W W Norton -- put together by Phil Cushway (Compiler), Michael Warr (Editor), and Victoria Smith (Photographer).  Here, from that collection, are the opening stanzas of Marilyn Nelson's "Cells and Windows" -- a poem that gains much of its power from the awful truth conveyed by its numbers.
Cells and Windows          by Marilyn Nelson
             after work by neogeo painter Peter Halley   

Black men in their prime
working years, especially
those without a high school
diploma, are much more likely
to be in jail than white men are.
(a) true   (b) true    

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

So much depends on . . . normality

<<   >>
     I found an lovely little autumn poem (after William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow") by Michael Khmelnitsky -- who declined to let me use it herein, and so I offer a link to it -- enjoy "The Gaussian Function."  
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Monday, November 7, 2016

Happy Birthday, Marie Curie

Today, November 7, is the birthday of Marie Curie (1867-1934, Nobel prize in physics, 1903).  Curie is celebrated in this poem by Richard Aston, first posted in this blog on December 6, 2014 along with two other math-science-themed poems.

Scientist     by Richard Aston

It took more than a figure, face, skin, and hair
for me to become Marie Curie,
wife of simple, smiling, selective, Pierre
who could recognize — because he was one — my genius.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Calculating costs of pollution ... and other news

     Recently I was browsing through an oldish collection, The Best American Poetry 1999 (edited by Robert Bly) where I found and liked this poem by Marcia Southwick -- a poem that drew me in with its anti-pollution attitudes and its enumeration of some of the costs of pollution.
A Star Is Born in the Eagle Nebula     by Marcia Southwick
                           To Larry Levis, 1946–1996
They’ve finally admitted that trying to save oil-soaked
seabirds doesn’t work. You can wash them, rinse them
with a high-pressure nozzle, feed them activated charcoal
to absorb toxic chemicals, & test them for anemia, but the oil
still disrupts the microscopic alignment of feathers that creates
a kind of wet suit around the body. (Besides, it costs $6oo to wash
the oil slick off a penguin & $32,000 to clean an Alaskan seabird.)