Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kandinsky's geometry inspires poetry . . .

     Found at the vast and varied international poetry site, Poetry International Web, a mathy poem by Australian poet Katherine Gallagher  entitled "AFTER KANDINSKY: YELLOW, RED, BLUE (1925)."  Enjoy!
Yellow-Red-Blue, 1925  by Wassily Kandinsky

After Kandinsky:  Yellow-Red-Blue (1925)      
                                                by Katherine Gallagher
Watch the animal eyes that whisk corners
faster than an angel breathing passwords
in a mesh of yellow. Cloud-sure, life flags itself on.  
Circle after circle is mapped in the mystery
of a line quicker than an arrow, shot from left to right,
the dark corners turned in on themselves,
while the sea advances up the cliffs.     

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A poem with 90 lines, 269 words . . .

     A poet whose work I enjoy is Charles Bernstein  (editor at the electronic poetry center,  a vast and wonderful site to visit and browse)-- and one of my neighbors recently surprised me with a link to a new-to-me Bernstein poem, "Thank You for Saying Thank You," that he had found (audio at  Below I offer an excerpt -- and a link to the text of the complete poem.  And, because I first misunderstood and thought that my neighbor had heard the poem on NPR, I went to and found this wonderful treasury of poems and commentary.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

My Math Teacher

     The 2016-2017 school year is drawing to a close.  Some are loving their math teachers and some are celebrating them with poetry.  Here are the opening stanzas of a poem by Mia Pratt about her teacher -- the complete poem is found at here (at

     My Math Teacher     by Mia Pratt

     My math teacher was such a colorful character
     she was the queen of Mathematics at our school
     she loved linear regressions and probability
     and permutations and combinations too!

     My math teacher loved to
     entertain us with her Listerine coated smile
     and her heart as pure
     as the golden sand on Small Hope Bay
     she loved making calculus and matrices fun for us
     while March 14th was her second Christmas
     and grading our exams was her New Year's Day!
              . . .

Poet and novelist John Updike (1932-2009) was a math teacher's son  -- here is a link to his sonnet, "Midpoint," about his father.  Additional poems about teachers may be found using the blog SEARCH.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"Mathematics" & "Poetry" in the same sentence!

Thanks to Google for helping me find things -- for example, this quote from Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun :

     Poetry is a form of mathematics,
               a highly rigorous relationship with words.

And this quote from American poet Carl Sandburg (1872-1962):

     Poetry is a mystic, sensuous mathematics of fire, smoke-stacks, 
               waffles, pansies, people, and purple sunsets. 

For more about Jelloun, here is a Wikipedia link.  
This link leads to my 2012 posting of Sandburg's poem, "Number Man."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Solve for X . . . and understand . . .

     In this morning's email, today's Poem-a-Day from has the mathy title, "Solve for X." Written by Oliver de la Paz  -- born in the Philippines and raised in Ontario, Oregon -- and teaching at the College of the Holy Cross, de la Paz introduces "Solve for X" with these words: 

“‘Solve for X’ is part of a sequence of poems about my son who’s on the autistic spectrum. I’ve been attempting to understand the way he perceives the world and I’ve been using cause and effect models as poetic templates. Word problems requiring the mathematician to solve for an unknown, thus, have become a metaphor for how we negotiate our relationship as father and son.”

Please go here to read (or to listen to) de la Paz's poem about trying to understand the unknown.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Links to poems and songs with STEM themes

     During April 2017, Indiana State Poet Laureate Shari Wagner teamed with Indiana Humanities to feature the work of Hoosier poets to celebrate April as National Poetry Month.  This humanities website posts a poem each day and in honor of  Quantum Leap -- a Humanities program focused on bringing together STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and the Humanities - the poem featured each Monday in April had a STEM-related theme.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Using SONGS to teach STEM -- online conference

     A recent email from Greg Crowther has let me know of an upcoming conference that looks to be LOTS OF FUN -- an interdisciplinary virtual conference on the use of song in teaching STEM subjects.  The conference is "VOICES: Virtual Ongoing Interdisciplinary Conferences on Educating with Song"  -- the dates are Sept. 27-28, 2017, the conference is entirely online, the registration cost is $10.  Early registration is encouraged to allow time for preparation and submission of presentation proposals.
     Song lyrics often are poetry and in this blog we have included lyrics on a variety of occasions.  Here are links to several lyrics featured herein.
          "The Derivative Song" by Tom Lehrer,
           Lines from "Mandlebrot Set" by Jonathan Coulton,
          "Circle Song" and lines from "Hotel Infinity"  by Larry Lesser (who is one of the featured VOICES speakers),
          "Questions You Can't Ever Decide" and two others by Bill Calhoun.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Save the Climate, change STEM to STEAM

     Australian poet Erica Jolly is one of the leaders of the STEM to STEAM movement in Australia -- she has introduced me to The Conversation, and, in it, this interesting and relevant article, "Did Artists Lead the Way in Mathematics?"
     For many years a secondary school teacher in South Australia, Jolly has written Challenging the Divide:  Approaches to Science and Poetry (Lythrum Press, 2010) -- a book that is rich with citations and arguments for integrating the arts and the sciences -- and includes a variety of poems.  Also rich with math-science content is Jolly's poetry collection, Making a Stand (Wakefield Press, 2015).
     And here is one of Jolly's recent poems -- sent to me with this comment:   Here's a poem - it deals with numbers in my way. Someone can do the multiplication.   Best wishes  Erica

A Significant Cabinet Change by the Prime Minister
in this New Coalition Government                           by Erica Jolly

And reading “Lab Girl: A story of trees, science and love”
by Hope Jahren, published by Fleet, in the UK, 2016.
Professor Jahren was named in 2005 as one of the
“Brilliant 10” young scientists. Geobiology is
her area of study and she is now a tenured
Professor at the University of Hawai’i.   

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Speaking out for Immigrants, McNish

        British spoken-word poet Hollie McNish has shouted out in verse in support of  immigration.  Her poem, from which I include some lines below, is entitled "Mathematics" and a video of McNish performing the poem is available here at the poet's webpage.  Thanks, Hollie McNish, for making important noise on this important issue.

from   Mathematics     by Hollie McNish
            . . .
       I am sick of crappy mathematics
       Cos I love a bit of sums
       I spent three years into economics 
       And I geek out over calculus