Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Problems with no solutions

     The syllable-square stanza is a poetic form I often turn to when scientific terminology gives me little hope of matching traditional patterns of rhyme or rhythm -- counting syllables gives discipline and invention to my word choices, and these are for me essential in writing poetry.
     As a grandparent of school-age children  I am deeply worried about the world they are inheriting.  I want it to offer a healthy environment and safety with vast opportunities for women as well as men.  And my own writing often supports these views.   I encourage readers to use the blog SEARCH to find an assortment of poems on a theme -- such as "girl" or "environment" or  . . . For example, here is a link to postings that include the word opportunity.  Scrolling through that list leads to this posting of Eavan Boland's poem, "Code," which honors Grace Murray Hopper.
     And here is my small, worried square:     

          Square worries

          Unless miracles give
          our earth new resources
          that prove unlimited,
          unchecked population
          growth and climate change are
          problems with no solutions.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Counting toward Christmas . . .

     Like my grandchildren, I am counting the days until Christmas -- enjoying holiday lights that break the winter darkness and looking forward to family gatherings.  Below I repeat a growing snowball poem that I first posted at the Christmas season in 2012.

o n
t o p
g i v e
l i g h t
f r e e l y
f o r e v e r
a b u n d a n t
b r i l l i a n t
e v e r y w h e r e

Holiday greetings and good wishes to ALL!

Continuing in the holiday spirit, here (repeated from 2010 posting) is a Christmas verse that celebrates pi (and helps us to remember its digits): 

Monday, December 18, 2017

It's time to correct our answers!

Verses with Two Voices
by JoAnne Growney
Questions                                                           Answers

Why doesn't the teacher notice
my hand is raised?
I'm waiting for all the boys,
so eager to speak, to finish ...
Why did he put my solution
at the bottom of the pile?
You are a girl .... It is best
for me to read the good papers first.
Have you had time to review
my proof of the theorem?
No, dear!
You are pregnant
and nothing will come of it ....
If you find moments between household and mothering,
pick up a pen and write a little rhyme.
Girls can do poems.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Visual poetry -- schemes with squares

Thanks to math teacher Sara Katz (at Manhattan's Essex Street Academy) 
and the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics for today's poem.

Monday, December 11, 2017

SPLIT THIS ROCK -- Poetry that takes a stand!

For a poetry conference about 
Information about the festival and how to register available here.

One of the most vital and persistent forces behind Split This Rock , an organization of socially engaged writers, has been Washington DC poet Sarah Browning -- THANK YOU, SARAH.  Here is one of Sarah's poems that presents some of the awful arithmetic of WAR.

Headline: Six Killed in Raid       by Sarah Browning

          Six American soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter killed 
          in booby trapped house. 
                 -- Fourth paragraph of Washington Post story 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Math-Poetry from YouTube

     Using "mathematics" as a search term at YouTube.com leads to a huge number of interesting results -- and some of them are poems.  For example:

Dallas Slam Poet Alexandra Marie 
Performance poet Dan Simpson from Salford, UK 
gives us "Applied Mathematics".

     Here next, in contrast to the BIG poems on YouTube, is a small mathy poem by Howard Nemerov (found here, along with other tiny Nemerov poems).  Thanks, Francisco, for alerting me to this treasure.

          Aesthetics     by Howard Nemerov

          The spider does geometry all night
          To take the fly, the dewdrop, and the sun’s light.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Calculating Pi -- a poet's view

     Initially I was drawn to a reading at The Writer's Center in Bethesda a couple of weeks ago because my neighbor, non-fiction writer and editor, Josh Tyree was reading from his London explorations, Vanishing Streets.  But the two writer's who read with Tyree also were known to me and are remarkable:
                    Annie Fincha poet I have known through WomPo, an online community (founded by her) that supports women-poets.  Links to Annie's work in this blog -- which feature items that pay careful attention to syllable-counts -- are here, (for July 29, 1010) and here, (for June 27, 2015).
                    Gary Fincke, who was once almost a neighbor of mine -- I taught mathematics at Bloomsburg (PA) University and he taught and developed a creative writing program at nearby Susquehanna University -- and, before I moved south to the Washington, DC area, Gary and I knew each other through local literary events.  It was great fun to hear Gary read not only poetry -- I offer a sample of his mathy work below -- but also short fiction; I came away from the November 11 reading with a copy of his new book of short stories, The Killer's Dog (Elixir Press, 2017), which is a very intriguing collection.

Fincke's poetry does not shy from mathematics and "The Butterfly Effect" was posted in this blog back on November 22, 2010.  Here, from Fincke's collection, Blood Ties:  Working-Class Poems (Time Being Press, 2002) is "Calculating Pi."

Calculating Pi     by Gary Fincke

          "Pi has been calculated to 480 million decimal points."
                                                                                 --  Newsweek

Printed out, this means six hundred miles of digits,
A paper carpet from Pittsburgh to Chicago  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Science Poetry from Spain

     Several weeks ago I got an email from science journalist Elena Soto, from Palma de Mallorca, Spain, director of a weekly science supplement for the newspaper El Mundo.  Soto told me of her poetry -- recently, Kernlose Winter , a collection containing a number of poems with a scientific theme -- and her blog Establo de Pegaso that offers samplings of science-poetry fare.
     Soto's poem, "The equation of zebra stripes" -- offered below -- is about morphogenesis (the structural changes that occur as an organism develops).  From Kernlose Winter and found also in Soto's blogthe poem is dedicated to codebreaker Alan Turing.  I offer first Soto's English translation and, following that, her original Spanish version.  Thank you, Elena, for sharing this and the links to more of your work.

The equation of zebra stripes     by Elena Soto
                          for Alan Mathison Turing
singular as zebra stripes,
wrinkle borders on maps.
Enchants the pupil,
molds her to the smooth curve of the dunes.
Drag until the fur
the winding path of deltas
the coastline.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Burma Shave Mathematics

     One of the positive aspects of many math journals is that they are not shy about including poems that related to mathematics -- a negative aspect of that practice is that the poems are not included in the Contents listing for that publication.  And so, the fact that my poem "A Mathematician's Nightmare" appears on page 31 of the February 2001 issue of Math Horizons is lost to all but those of us who have a copy of that magazine.  Also unrecorded in these Contents is a page-full of rhymes written in response to a contest that asked for math poems composed in the style of road-side advertising for Burma Shave.  From the late 1920s to the early 1960s, US highway travelers encountered various series of small signs advertising the product.  I remember, as a child, attempting to guess what was coming next as our family car drove past a series of these signs.  Here are two examples (from Wikipedia):

   A shave / That's real / No cuts to heal / A soothing / Velvet after-feel / Burma Shave
   Past / Schoolhouses / Take it slow / Let the little / Shavers grow / Burma Shave  

Monday, November 20, 2017


     Sometimes a poem comes to me with a story -- and such is the case with the poem by Richard Harrison that I offer below.  As part of my Google-searching for online sites that contain both "poetry" and "mathematics," I found an article about a new book by Canadian poet Richard Harrison -- and the article included the statement, "Harrison also writes about super heroes, cosplay, spoken word poetry and mathematics."
     And so I hunted for an email address for Richard Harrison, then wrote asking to learn more of his math-poetry activity.  In his reply, he sent me the poem below -- his one-and-only mathy poem -- a poem he derived from material he wrote in response to a request by philosopher Robert Crease for candidates for "the greatest equation."   Harrison nominated "1 + 1 = 2" and provided an argument in defense of his nomination -- and part of Harrison's response is offered in the preface for Crease's book, The Great Equations: Breakthroughs in Science from Pythagoras to Heisenberg (W W Norton, 2009).

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Memorization and formulae

    A website I enjoy visiting is Ben Orlin's MathWithBadDrawings.com.  At every mathy website I visit,  it is my habit to do a search for "poetry" (just as on a poetry site I search for "math"). At MathWithBadDrawings I found this poetry sample concerning whether it is important to memorize particular basics:

       Monday we memorize
       That way we know
       Tuesday through Friday
       We think and we Grow

And, accompanied by a drawing, here are the first two of five stanza for a poem about the quadratic formula:     

Monday, November 13, 2017

Logic and Poetry -- from Lewis Carroll

     Australian poet Erica Jolly has alerted me to Lapham's Quarterly -- a magazine, both print and digital, that offers the view that history is the root of all education.  In particular, Jolly directed me to Lapham's presentation of "Sense and Nonsense:  Babies cannot manage crocodiles" by Lewis Carroll.  One of the Lewis Carroll logic puzzles presented therein relates to poetry -- and so I offer it here:

   1. No interesting poems are unpopular among people of real taste;
   2. No modern poetry is free from affectation;
   3. All your poems are on the subject of soap bubbles;
   4. No affected poetry is popular among people of real taste;
   5. No ancient poem is on the subject of soap bubbles.
Answer:  All your poems are uninteresting.

     That the Answer/Conclusion follows using the rules of logic requires some calculations which the interested reader is invited to pursue.  A solution (and additional puzzles) may be found here.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Stop saying GIRLS can't do MATH

     Found at Poets.org, this poem by Brenda Cárdenas that, like too many others portrays a girl in a can't do-math situation.  Another aspect of the poem, however, is its Spanish-language descriptions of Hispanic contributions to mathematics.  And, despite my protest, I find this a lovely poem and worth sharing.

     Calculations     by Brenda Cárdenas

     “I don’t know what to tell you.
     Your daughter doesn’t understand
     math. Numbers trouble her, leave
     her stuck on ground zero.”

                                    Y fueron los mayas
                                    quienes imaginaron el cero,
                                    un signo para nada, para todo,
                                    en sus gran calculaciones.

                     Is zero the velvet swoop into dream,
                     the loop into plumes of our breath?    

Monday, November 6, 2017

Mathematics -- vital imagery in SO MANY poems . . .

     Mathematics not only governs the structure of many poems -- of sonnets and pantoums and villanelles and more -- but mathematical imagery is an increasingly vital ingredient of the content.  Australian poet and STEAM advocate Erica Jolly has recently alerted me to the most recent issue (Volume 83) of the online journal Cordite Poetry Review  -- the theme of this issue: its opening essay, its 60 poems --  is mathematicsFollow this link to Cordite and explore.
     An important resource for anyone seeking poetry-with-mathematics is the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics -- an online journal in which each biannual issue contains a varied selection of poems.  Here is a link to the July 2017 issue for you to explore.
     The humanistic side of mathematics has been explored for many years by the online British journal plus -- available here.  Perhaps you'd like to read an article on "the mathematics of kindness" or survey their articles, videos and podcasts about math-women or read a math-poetry book review -- all this and so much more at plus.
AND, when your time permits, browse here in my blog -- 
with more than 900 postings, much variety is offered.  
Scroll down OR use the SEARCH box.  Explore!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Probability and astonishment

     A small poem by Lia Purpura in the January 29, 2015 issue of The New Yorker delights even as it highlights the errors that many of us make in supposing that coincidences -- such as meeting some home town friend in a distant vacation spot -- are rare rather than probable.  

       Probability     by Lia Purpura

       Most coincidences are not
       miraculous, but way more
       common than we think--
       it's the shiver
       of noticing being
       central in a sequence 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Churchill -- Love and Information

     On a recent Thursday evening at the Forum Theatre in downtown Silver Spring I had the exciting privilege of seeing a splendid staging of Caryl Churchill's play, Love and Information.  Directed by Michael Dove and starring 14 versatile actors, this 57-scene play kept moving from one arresting moment to another.  Many of the scenes were poetic and several were substantially mathematical.  For example:
Mathematics in a scene from Caryl Churchill's Love and Information

Friday, October 27, 2017

Moving from STEM to STEAM in Australia

     "Poets," said Australian writer and teacher Erica Jolly, "find their themes in what matters to them."  This quote is taken from Jennifer Strauss's introduction to Jolly's poetry collection, Making a Stand  (Wakefield Press, 2015).  Erica Jolly is a retired teacher of history and English in southern Australia and works tirelessly toward ending the segregation between STEM disciplines and the arts and humanities.  In the lines below (taken from Making a Stand), Jolly is responding to words from former Chief Scientist Professor Ian Chubb who has said, speaking of mathematics, that he wants "all of us in the same tent."

Erica Jolly:   If he does, we must remove segregation of students 
          into supposedly separate cultures of science and mathematics versus 
          the arts and humanities as well as the unwillingness for STEM 
          to make interdisciplinary connections.

               Don't I as one of those deemed
               inappropriate for that elite
               have the right to access
               their language?

               to algebra, that Arabic word,
               giving me letters in place
               of apples or oranges to
               solve problems   

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

November 1 deadline for Math Haiku

     The Journal of Humanistic Mathematics has issued a call for Mathematical Haiku -- follow this link for the guidelines and instructions on how to submit your work.  Since I did not, at first, understand that the submission request is for only three Haiku, I gathered more.  Here are several of my leftovers -- involving multi-syllabic mathematical terms --  that I was not able to include in my submission:




Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Eyes of Isaac Newton . . . and so on

     A couple of weeks ago, Irish poet-physicist Iggy McGovern read here in the DC area and introduced readers to his new poetry collection The Eyes of Isaac Newton (Dedalus Press, 2017).  McGovern's poems involve a wide variety of scientific topics:  vision and color, genetics, quantum theory, and so on -- peopled with scientists and poets -- an amazing variety of topics and verses, scientifically accurate yet accessible to a non-scientist reader.
     McGovern's poems sometimes turn to humor and below I feature three examples of his clerihew.
     From Wikpedia (edited):   A clerihew is a whimsical, four-line biographical poem  -- 
the first line gives the name of the poem's subject,  usually a famous person who at whom fun will be poked.  
The rhyme scheme is AABB, and the rhymes are often forced. The line length and metre are irregular. 

Because none of McGovern's clerihew feature women, I insert one of my own, 
about unheralded 20th century codebreaker Elizabeth Smith,
 subject of The Woman Who Smashed Codes  by Jason Fagone (Harper Collins, 2017).

Elizabeth Smith,
poet, technologist,
code breaker, Nazi exposer--
and, alas, no one knows her.
And, from Iggy McGovern:

          Albert Einstein
          liked to opine:
          "It's not very nice
          Of God to play dice."  

Friday, October 20, 2017

Perfectly Matched -- Poetry and Mathematics

     Mathematician Sarah Glaz has recently published a lovely and varied collection of math-linked poetry -- choosing her title, "Ode to Numbers," to echo Pablo Neruda. That Neruda poem is one that Glaz and I have long-loved -- it is included in our anthology, Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (AK Peters/CRC Press, 2008).
     In recent days I have much enjoyed reading -- and rereading -- the variety of poems included in Glaz's new collection Ode to Numbers (Antrim House, 2017).  The publisher's author-page includes several sample poems and one of them, "A Woman in Love," offers this appropriate self-description:

               I see a streak of mathematics
               in almost everything.

Glaz's poetry takes a reader to childhood days in Romania, to mathematics conferences, to a variety of topics in the history of mathematics, and to the inner workings of a beautifully creative mathematical mind.  One of my personal favorites among poetic forms is the pantoum -- I love the way that permuted repetition of phrases offers surprising new meanings -- and Glaz's collection offers several of these.  Earlier in this blog (at this link) I posted "A Pantoum for the Power of Theorems" and below, with permission, I offer "Mathematical Modeling."

     Mathematical Modeling     by Sarah Glaz

     Mathematical modeling may be viewed
     As an organizing principle
     That enables us to handle
     A vast array of information 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The best words in the best order . . .

     Perhaps the way to link this couplet by Richard Wilbur (1921-2017) to mathematics is by referring to the notion of subset.   Wilbur is a favorite poet of mine, and he recently has died.

“Because he swings so neatly through the trees”   by Richard Wilbur

       Because he swings so neatly through the trees,
       An ape feels natural in the word trapeze.

I found these lines at PoetryFoundation.org and they are included in Wilbur's collection of illustrated wordplay, The Pig in the Spigot (Voyager Books, 2004).  Wilbur has been mentioned previously in this blog -- to explore, you may use the SEARCH box in the right column or follow this link.

mathematics is . . . the best words in the best order . . . is poetry

Friday, October 13, 2017

Mathy Double Dactyls

     The double dactyl is, like the limerick, a fixed verse form -- and one that is often humorous. From Wikipedia's, we have this initial requirement:  "There must be two stanzas, each comprising three lines of dactylic dimeter ( ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ˘ ˘ ) followed by a line consisting of just a choriamb ( ¯ ˘ ˘ ¯ ) . . ."   As the samples below illustrate, a double dactyl involves both nonsense and multi-syllabic words -- a non-trivial challenge; visit Wikipedia to learn more.
     The verses below are by Arthur Seiken, Emeritus Professor at Union College and I found them (with the help of editor Marjorie Senechal) in a 1995 issue of  The Mathematical Intelligencer (Vol 17, No 2, p 11). 

      If you want to see more of this poetic form, here are links to follow:  "Mathematical Double Dactyls" by Tristan Miller from the July 2015 issue of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics and the Higgeldy Piggeldy verse collection of Robin PemantleAnd, again, here is a Wikipedia link that supplies formal details of these verses. 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Poetry . . . Mathematics . . . and Attitude

            Outwitted     by Edwin Markham (1852-1940)

            HE DREW a circle that shut me out—
            Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
            But Love and I had the wit to win:
            We drew a circle that took him in!

Today I invite you to browse  -- scroll down to look at recent posts and find something of interest OR use the SEARCH box to find lines by a particular poet or ones that feature particular mathematical terms.  Your search/scroll also can find poems that celebrate math-women and ones that protest abuse of our environment. THANK YOU for coming here to read.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Alice's Adventures in Numberland

     Recently I was alerted to some postings by Alice Silverberg -- she is a professor of mathematics and computer science at the University of California at Irvine and she is has made outstanding contributions to the field of Cryptography.  AND Silverberg has recently written down (at this link) some of her adventures as a math-woman.  She has entitled them "Alice's Adventures in Numberland" and she offers an email address for readers' comments.  ALSO here are links to two of my earlier postings featuring Alice Silverberg and poetry:  "A Quantum Romance" by Adam Rulli-Gibbs and several syllable snowballs.
As a recent film featuring NASA mathematician, Katherine Johnson, 
points out, math-women often are:
Hidden figures:
women no one
notices are
changing the world.
 Although not mathematical, "Diving into the Wreck
by Adrienne Rich (1929-2012) also is relevant here.
      Here is a link to an important article by Judy Green, "How Many Women Mathematicians Can You Name?"  Green, now an emeritus professor at Marymount University, opens her article (first published in Math Horizons in 2001) with the admission that until her last undergraduate semester the only female mathematician she could name is Emmy NoetherGreen's article, and a book she has co-written (with Jeanne LaDuke) and its companion website, help to remedy such situations for others.  There are many important math women to know!
     AND, if you still have time after exploring the links above, 
please visit my article (with poetry) "They Say She Was Good -- for a Woman,"
published July 2017 in the online Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Chinese Poem of the Cross

     At the website Aleteia.org (a Catholic social networking site that offers information that it deems pertinent to questions about faith) I found this interesting use of numbers in a poem written by the Chinese Kangxi Emperor (1654-1722).  

By the Kangxi Emperor (康熙帝) (4 May 1654 – 20 December 1722)
      The Kangxi Emperor (康熙帝) was the longest-reigning emperor in the history of China, and one of the longest-ruling monarchs worldwide. He ascended the throne at age 7, and reigned for 61 years. He was also a learned scholar, who compiled the Kangxi Dictionary and he was friendly to Christianity.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Women Count

     Today's commentary by Washington Post writer Dana Milbank offered a forceful reminder that women are often talked-over by men.   Milbank's offering comes just three days after I attended a special event at the National Museum of Women in the Arts that featured Judy Chicago, a feminist artist whose 1970s sculpture, "Dinner Party," celebrates not only the geometry of triangles and circles but also the contributions of women to our world -- 39 women celebrated by place settings and 999 additional women's names recorded therein.  Even though Judy Chicago insisted last Sunday that she is not fearless, her record of behavior is as fearless as I have known.  I think it is not possible to talk-over Judy Chicago.  She is someone I much-admire. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Irish poet McGovern to visit US

     Irish poet and physicist Iggy McGovern will visit the US in October and is scheduled to read at 
The Writer's Center in Bethesda--Saturday, October 14 at 3 PM.  

McGovern's poetry has been featured earlier in this blog -- including "Belfast Inequalities" and "Proverbs for the Computer Age" on December 20, 2015  and "Geometry" on January 12, 2016.  This latter poem, "Geometry" is the opening poem in A Mystic Dream of 4 (Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2013) -- a sonnet sequence based on the life of mathematician William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865).  Also a poet, Hamilton grew up in Ireland in a time of prominence for British romantic poets of William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) -- and I offer below a McGovern sonnet that links Hamilton to Coleridge.     

Friday, September 15, 2017

Love Triangle . . ..

     One day, looking online for Edwin Abbott's 19th century classic, Flatland, I found not only Abbott's tale but some poetry.  At the website of Jerome White, a New Orleans math teacher, I found his mathy poem "Love Triangle," about which White says:    "Love Triangle" was inspired by my disappointment that Flatland: A Romance In Many Dimensions was deceptively devoid of "romance" in the modern sense of the word. 
     With White's permission, here is the poem -- offered with a preparatory remark:  the poet is sometimes explicit as he describes the geometry of sexual attraction.

Love Triangle      by  Jerome A. White

A trio of three-sided polygons sprawled across
the two-dimensional space of my notebook page
capturing my singular focus

The one on the left I tried to seduce
Only to find her obliquely obtuse
Her oversized angle symbolic
of the diverging vectors our lives would follow    

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Truth in a circle . . .

     In these days when the truth-value of so much of what I hear broadcast is difficult to assess I have been drawn back to a poem by Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), given below.  I used to agree with Dickinson; now I am less sure about how one may know the truth to tell it.

Tell all the truth but tell it slant — (1263)     by Emily Dickinson

       Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
       Success in Circuit lies
       Too bright for our infirm Delight
       The Truth's superb surprise
       As Lightning to the Children eased
       With explanation kind
       The Truth must dazzle gradually
       Or every man be blind —

This poem and many others by Dickinson may be found online at  PoetryFoundation.org where they note that Dickinson's work is reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from THE POEMS OF EMILY DICKINSON: READING EDITION, edited by Ralph W. Franklin, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1998, 1999 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.  Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition (The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998).

Monday, September 11, 2017

Poetry of Colors and Geometry

      Recently I found online links to an exhibit by Japanese Surrealist Poet Kitasono Katue at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and further searching --  for words from this poet  -- led me here.  I offer a sample below -- and invite you, after reading here, to follow the links and explore this fascinating work.
     Here, is one of five poems by Kitasono Katue from Smoke's Straightline (Kemuri no chokusen, 1959), translated into English by John Solt and available at this link.

     Monotonous Space     by Kitasono Katue (1902-1978)

     white square
     within it
     white square
     within it
     black square
     within it
     black square    

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Halfway down . . .

     This week I have been sifting through piles of poems I have collected for possible posting herein.  Poems which I need to read and reread, to write to authors and publishers for permission to present.  There will be future days for me to do that.  Today I offer you a stanza from "Halfway Down" by A. A. Milne (from Now We are Six, E P Dutton, 1927).  Enjoy.

          from Halfway Down     by A. A. Milne (1882-1956)
          Halfway down the stairs
          Is a stair
          Where I sit.
          There isn't any
          Other stair
          Quite like
          I'm not at the bottom,
          I'm not at the top;
          So this is the stair
          I always
          Stop.                     Here is a link to the rest of this poem -- and to more of Milne's work.

If you would like to see a list of poems that offer"spirit-of-math" insights about math-people and their work, follow this link to find several dozen math-linked titles -- a list originally prepared for a Joint Mathematics Meetings presentation.  Many of the poems on the list are available in this blog and can be located using the SEARCH feature.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

From Hydrology to Poetry to Infinity . . .

     Carlos Puente is a professor of hydrology at the University of California, Davis AND he is so much more . . .  at Bridges 2017 he presented a paper that offered samples of artistic designs relevant to his research studies -- geometric structures linked, for example, to ice crystals and the DNA rosette.   Puente also integrates his work with poems and song lyrics.  Both he and I participated in a poetry-reading at the Bridges conference -- he read "Le plus improbable" and he has given me permission to offer you here a portion of "Conga to infinity." 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Celebrate Kim Roberts with "Six"

     Today is the first of a new month and, as expected, this morning I got an email reminder of the monthly Poetry News that is available at Beltway Poetry.    Founded by poet Kim Roberts in 2000, this quarterly journal provides a vital voice for poetry in the Washington, DC area.  Thanks, Kim!
     The poem by Roberts below is one that I first met while walking along the street in Takoma Park, MD  -- a community that actively promotes the arts.  Roberts' poem "Six" was displayed for my sidewalk reading in honor of National Poetry Month -- and my photo of that display is shown following the printed text of her poem. Enjoy!

       Six    by Kim Roberts

       The number of feet to dig for a coffin.
       The highest roll of the dice.
       The symbol of Venus, goddess of love.
       The atomic number of carbon.
       As a prefix, either hex or sex.
       A group of French composers in the 1920s.  

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Pure as a mathematical equation

     I am pleased when I see mathematics held up as an ideal -- and such was the case when I opened my June 19, 2017 issue of The New Yorker and found the lovely poem, "How to Build a Stradivarius" by Ilyse Kusnetz (1966 -2016). Here are its closing lines:

       .  .  .
       The truth could be found in the song itself—

       how it was impossible to tell where 
       the wood ceased and the song began—notes pure

       as a mathematical equation. Transposing mountain. 
       Valley. Mountain again.

The complete poem is available here.

Monday, August 28, 2017

How does the Triangle relate to the Circle?

     One of the active promoters of poetry with links to mathematics is Californian Carol Dorf -- who teaches math at Berkeley High School AND is poetry editor for the online journal, TalkingWriting.  Along with several other mathy poets, Carol participated in the poetry reading at the Bridges 2017 Math-Arts Conference in Waterloo, Ontario.
     Here, playing with mathematical language -- from Carol's 2013 collection, enchantingly illustrated by Terri Saul, Every Evening Deserves a Title (Delirious Nonce, Berkeley, CA) -- is "Euclidean Shivers."

     Euclidean Shivers     by Carol Dorf

     So, how does the Triangle
     relate to the Circle?    

     Euclid and a radius prove points
     that radiate from the center, a circle,
     a method to navigate space.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

More solar numbers

     Yesterday's eclipse is still on my mind -- and "solar" links me to a poem featured at the recent Bridges Math-Arts Conference in Waterloo -- a poem by Brazilian poet Marco Lucchesi, a much-honored and widely translated writer who is a professor of literature at the Federal University of Rio Di Janeiro.
by Marco Lucchesi

Lucchesi's poem is found in Hinos Matematicos (Mathematical Hymns) -- and has been translated from the Portuguese by Renato Rezende.  The numbers in the poem, 220 and 284, are in mathematics called amicable numbers  -- the proper divisors of each one can be summed to give the other.   For example:   (2 + 110) + (4 + 55) + (5 + 44) + (10+22) + (11+20) + 1 = 284.
Thanks, Marco, for your poem.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Sun's poem is infinite . . .

      On this day during which many in the US experienced the totality of a solar eclipse, I stayed in Maryland and, on the roof of my condo-building  -- along with one of my sons and two of my granddaughters and an array of neighbors -- saw the darkening as about 80% of the sun was covered by the moon.  This event -- the view of the eclipsed sun, the darkened day -- was far more interesting and exciting than I had expected.
     AND, thanks to my neighbor, poet and translator Yvette Neisser, I have been introduced to some poetry about the sun.  She has shared Solar Poems by Homero Aridjis (City Lights, 2010, translated by George McWhirtier).  Here are several stanzas from the opening poem . . .

The Sun’s poem is infinite, 
we can only paint it in words, 
said the painter

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Seeking an EQUATION for LOVE . . .

       One of the interesting and fun people I had the good fortune to meet at the 2017 Bridges Math-Arts Conference in Waterloo, Ontario, is Lisa Lajeunesse.  At Capilano University, Lajeunesse teaches a course entitled "Math and Creative Arts" and presented at Bridges a thought-provoking paper entitled "The Golden Ratio:  How Close is Close Enough?"   My close connection with her came because we both were involved in a Bridges 2017 Math-Poetry Reading.  She has given me permission to include her clever and mathy poem here.

  An Equation for Love    by Lisa Lajeunesse     

          They’ve found an equation for love

          It goes something like this
          love equals attraction times compatibility to the power of opportunity
          there’s more of course and there’s been much fiddling
          with coefficients and lesser terms
          involving age, pheromones and duration of eye contact   

Monday, August 14, 2017

The wisdom of grooks . . .

     From Wikpedia, we have this definition:       A grook ("gruk" in Danish) is a form of short aphoristic poem or rhyming aphorism, created by the Danish poet, designer, inventor and scientist Piet Hein (1905-1996), who wrote over 7000 of them, mostly in Danish or English. A couple mathy grooks are offered below -- and, below them, links to more.

        PROBLEMS          by Piet Hein

Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back.

The grook shown above and more are found here:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Counting, women, loving mathematics

     Here is another Cento from BRIDGES -- for background information, please see my August 4 posting -- this one composed by Erinn and Catherine.  Authors of the four lines are Judy Green, Shakuntala Devi, Anonymous, and Mike Naylor.

 How many women mathematicians can you name?
How many of you love mathematics?
Women count. Men count. People count.
Counting each and every step along this rocky shore.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Centos from 2017 Bridges Math-Arts Conference

     Last Monday evening I returned home from the 2017 Bridges Math-and-the-Arts Conference at the University of Waterloo.  One of the special events in which I participated was a Sunday afternoon poetry reading; information about the reading (and links) are here in my July 17 posting .  
     Another conference activity -- machine-based and developed by Waterloo computer science grad student Erinn Atwater to work with a data-base of quotations I had gathered that relate to math or poetry -- was a machine set-up to invite conference attendees to compose a four-line Cento from a screen-selection of choices.
     Here is a sample of the Cento poetry that was created; the assembler of these lines listed her name simply as Bianca:

Mathematics is not only connected to art; it is just art.                  (by Solomon Marcus)
There is always a third point between any two.                             (by Michael Rosen)
My imagination is still the same. It’s bad with large numbers.       (by Wislawa Szymborska)
Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.                        (by William Shakespeare)