Thursday, June 22, 2017

Euclid's Iron Hand

      Alice Major is a Canadian poet who admits to having loved mathematics since girlhood and who often includes mathematical ideas and images in her poems.  The first poet laureate of Edmonton, Alberta, Major has been instrumental in spreading a love of poetry in many directions and venues.  The selection below, "Euclid's Iron Hand," first appeared in Wild Equations, the Spring 2016 issue of Talking-Writing, an online journal that also in 2012 featured math-related poems and an essay by TW editor, Carol Dorf, "Why Poets Sometimes Think in Numbers."

Both Alice Major and Carol Dorf are part of the Poetry Reading
at this summer's BRIDGES Math-Arts Conference July 27-31 in Waterloo, Ontario.
Will we see you there?

Euclid's Iron Hand    by Alice Major

My iron cannot cope
with non-Euclidean geometry.
Antique and irritable, it insists
on plane surfaces and the fifth postulate,
hissing, Lie down flat, goddamit.  

It approves of tablecloths.
And sheets—at least the kind
without fitted corners.
It glides across these simple surfaces,
an unencumbered pedagogue,
master of its subject matter,

but turns stubborn in the face
of new topologies like tubes
or toruses. It sears the surfaces
of sleeves together and heatedly denies
the curvature of armholes.

More of Alice Major's work may be found in previous postings in this blog:  At this link are two poems from her latest collection, Standard Candles (University of Alberta Press, 2015).  Some of he lines that explore the patterns of rhyme are found here.

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