Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Infinite

     On page 53 of the February 6 issue of The New Yorker I recently found and enjoyed a poem entitled "The Infinite" by Charles Simic.  Here are its opening lines:

     The infinite yawns and keeps yawning.
     Is it sleepy?
     Does it miss Pythagoras?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Love and Mathematics -- and Valentine's Day

     Perhaps you need a love poem for a mathematician, or about a mathematician -- you might enter the words love and mathematician in the search box to the right and find what this blog has to offer.  And here is a link to previous postings that celebrate Valentine's Day.  Enjoy!!

Read it (math OR poem) more than once . ..

     Recently my poet-friend, Millicent Borges Accardi, sent me a copy of her latest book, Only More So (Salmon Poetry, 2016).  She mentioned a poem entitled "The Night of Broken Glass" for its mathematics -- indeed it includes several numbers as it movingly describes attempts at normalcy amid the horrors of urban attack; and it ends with this stanza :

      The essential business of living well
      Continues in shock waves
      That fall into the ground of innocent
      People, triggered inside a soul
      Of nothingness that pretended
      To solve an impossible equation.

     My favorite poem in Accardi's collection is "Amazing Grace" which I give you below.   It is a poem that, like an intriguing piece of mathematics, I have read, and read again, and again . ..  each time getting more meaning than the time before.
     For me, one of the similarities of poetry and math is their density, the need for several readings -- for reading both aloud and silently, for reading with pencil and paper for note-taking, for reading in the library and at the kitchen table, sitting or standing.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Like James Baldwin - refuse labels!

     Last Sunday evening -- instead of watching Super Bowl LI -- in a crowded theater in downtown Silver Spring I watched the recently-released documentary "I Am Not Your Negro," narrated using words of writer James Baldwin (1924-1986).  Baldwin was a contrarian, he avoided or contradicted labels and categories.
     One of my favorite quotes -- that I see as intimately related to discovery in mathematics (from Hungarian-American Nobelist, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi (1893-1986)) -- applies also to Baldwin:

                     Discovery is seeing
                     what everybody else has seen, and thinking 
                     what nobody else has thought.

And here, from Jimmy's Blues & Other Poems (Beacon Press, 2014) is Baldwin's little poem "Imagination" which captures the same sort of mind-play that occurs with mathematics.   

Monday, February 6, 2017

Celebrate Francis Su

     In this morning's email I got a link (Thanks, Greg Coxson!) to this story that celebrates the talented mathematician and compassionate human being, Francis SuDr Su (of Harvey Mudd College) has recently completed a term as president of the Mathematical Association of America.  Here is a link to Dr Su's retiring presidential address -- for which he received a standing ovation.  Read.  Learn.  Admire.  Celebrate.  Imitate!
     Scrolling down in this blog to my posting for January 11, 2017 will lead you to links to several poems that celebrate mathematicians. And a blog-SEARCH using "mathematician" will find even more such poems.  Enjoy!

       A thorough advocate in a just cause, 
             a penetrating mathematician facing the starry heavens, 
                   both alike bear the semblance of divinity.
                                                                     -- Goethe (1749-1832)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Groundhog Day 2017

      My scan of this morning's Washington Post did not find a mention of today's important status as Groundhog Day -- and I am worried that perhaps the new President 45 has banned these useful creatures.  If you wish, you may search this blog for postings related to Groundhog Day and, if you do, you can get these results.  Enjoy!

January 2017 and prior -- titles and dates of posts

Here are the titles and dates of previous blog postings,
moving backward from the present.
For mathy poems related to a particular mathy topic -- such as women in math or climate or triangle or circle or teacher or . . . -- click on a selected title below or enter the desired term in the SEARCH box in the right-hand column.  For example, here is a link to a selection of poems found using the pair of search terms "women  equal."  For poems about calculus, follow this linkTo find a list of useful search terms, scroll down the right-hand column. 

Jan 31  Life is Short
Jan 29  Girls can do EVERYTHING!
Jan 26  Ultimately, all mathematics is poetry . . .
Jan 23  All Mathematicians are Equal!
Jan 19  Dickens, from A Tale of Two Cities
Jan 16  Celebrate Martin Luther King
Jan 11  Poems starring mathematicians
Jan  6   2017 is prime!