Thursday, May 31, 2018

A self, divided

     On this very humid summer morning it is a treat to be drawn by Virginia poet Joan Mazza's poem to the chill of a winter morning as the poet divides her energies, measuring her world using fractions.  

Fractions             by Joan Mazza

Half awake at 5 AM, I leave my half of a warm bed
and quilts to the dog, hold the banister to descend
the narrow stairs. The woodstove’s still warm,
only one-tenth the coals aglow under their blanket
of gray ashes. I’ve half a mind to let it be, use electric,
only a quarter more cost than wood. No labor.
Clean heat, with some say one hundredth
the pollution I contribute with my stove.   

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Celebrating with a Fib

is to
all those people who
connect poetry and math -- CHEERS!

For more about Fibs, do a SEARCH of this blog -- or, for one rich source, go here.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Time comes quantized . . .

     Earlier this month, I saw a poem ("Time/text") by wonderful Canadian poet and friend Alice Major on Facebook and she has given me permission to offer it here.  It is from her first book of poetry, Time Travels Light, (Rowan Books, 1992).

Time/text     by Alice Major

Time comes quantized
in little books     pocked
with fifteen-minute intervals
that mark my progress
through the day —

          Niggling book of kells
      spelling out the duties
  and services
         peculiar to each hour.    

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Counting What's Left

     Recently at the 2018 Split This Rock Poetry Festival, I purchased a copy of ghost fishing:  An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology edited by poet Melissa Tuckey (University of Georgia Press, 2018) and, below, I offer a sad poem about "counting" from this anthology.   There is much to value in this fine anthology; follow this link for more information.

As If Hearing Heavy Furniture Moved on the Floor Above Us
                                                 by Jane Hirshfield
As things grow rarer, they enter the ranges of counting.
Remain this many Siberian tigers,
that many African elephants. Three hundred red egrets.
We scrape from the world its tilt and meander of wonder
as if eating the last burned onions and carrots from a cast iron pan.
Closing eyes to taste better the char of ordinary sweetness.

Hirshfield's poem also is found in the Split This Rock Poetry Database along with many other poems of environmental concern and protest.  It was first published in Washington Square Review.   This link connects to work by Jane Hirshfield featured in previous postings for this blog.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Playing with time

        Here is a poem that plays with the geometry of time -- a poem that first appeared in Mathematics Magazine, Vol 68, No 6 (December 1995), page 288.   Several of my other mathy poems written around that same time were collected in a booklet, My Dance is Mathematics, now out of print but available here on my website.  

       Finding Time     by JoAnne Growney

       Points chase points
       around the circle,
       fighting time.
       You know time's a circle,
       rather than a line.          

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Meeting the horizon line . . .

Poet James Galvin's work is described in this bio as both musical and "profoundly ecological" -- both qualities that strongly draw me to it.  The following poem, "Art Class," plays with math terminology -- drifting back and forth between reality and abstraction -- in a way that is fun to read as well as thoughtful.  Enjoy!

       Art Class  by James Galvin
       Let us begin with a simple line,
       Drawn as a child would draw it,
       To indicate the horizon,

       More real than the real horizon,
       Which is less than line,
       Which is visible abstraction, a ratio.   

Monday, May 14, 2018

Counting to 13

     I am a long-time New Yorker subscriber and what a delight it is, occasionally, to open a new issue of the magazine and find that one of their poems has links to mathematics. Such happened for the issue of April 2, 2-18 -- on page 70 of that issue is the poem, "Who Knows One" by Jane Shore.  
     Shore's poem features thirteen stanzas, one for each of the counting numbers 1, 2, 3, ... 13.  The nth stanza has n+2 lines -- except for n=13 -- and that last stanza has n+4 lines.
     Thanks, Jane Shore, for playing with numbers!
     Readers -- here is stanza 4.
          Who knows four. I know four.
          What were you doing on all fours?
          Three’s the hearts in a ménage à trois.
          Two’s the jump ropes in double Dutch.
          One is God for God is One—
          One good turn deserves another.

Here is a link to the rest of Shore's poem.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Math gems -- in the imagery of poems

     Much of mathematical terminology is of the flexible sort that can create vivid and interesting images in poetry -- and many poets embed jewels of mathematics here and there in their work.  Whenever I am with a group of poets it almost always turns out that at least one has poems that feature math terms and ideas.  For example, Allyson Lima, a Montgomery College faculty member whom I met at a recent Silver Spring, MD meeting of DC-area translators, shared with me her poem "Turn" -- offered below.  At a recent Takoma Park (MD) Community Center Poetry Reading I met retired attorney Richard Lorr and he has shared with me his poem, "Sweet Crumbs."   At an Arlington, VA reading of prize-winning poems to appear on busses, I met dentist Eric Forsbergh and learned of his poem about DNA-Testing, "Police will Swab Your Cheek."    PLEASE, scroll down, read, Enjoy! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Appreciation of Teachers (this week and FOREVER)

 This is National Teacher Appreciation Week 
 Celebrate your teachers with poems 
This link leads to a poem (previously posted) that celebrates four of my teachers -- Miriam Ayer, Laura Church, T. K. Pan (all math teachers) and Elinor Blair.
Here is a link to a poem by a favorite poetry teacher, Karl Patten.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Statistics and Mindfulness . . .

     April was Math-Stat Awareness Month and National Poetry Month  -- and here in this blog we celebrate those topics year-round -- today with a selection from Larry Lesser, professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, and first published at the website of  The American Statistical Association.

     Mindful Means      by Lawrence M. Lesser

     An explanatory variable has a response and
     The space
     Before response is deemed
     Sought by degrees:
     More time to reflect
     If randomness is
     Uniform, if correlation is
     Causal, chance, or complexity yet

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Counting on . . . and on . . .

     Claudia Gary is an active and celebrated poet in the Washington, DC area and she has a lifelong interest in mathematics -- starting, she tells me, "at age 8 when my father gave me a copy of George Gamow's One, Two, Three, Infinity."  Her poem, "In Binary," offered below, was first published in Rattle and features her and poet Richard Moore (1927-2009) who also was fascinated by mathematics.  Enjoy the fun of counting on and on, in verse.

In Binary     by Claudia Gary

What brought them together were gifts without number,
but binary digits enticed them to stay.
A system that each had discovered in childhood
cemented their fate at an offbeat café.


For her it was somewhat like playing piano.
He would make loops as if stringing small beads.
Both had departed the realm of addition,
since shapes, such as hands, had geometry’s needs.

While nursing their coffee and ordering breakfast,
asking more questions and ordering tea,
learning how deeply their temperaments nested,
each counted on fingers to ten-twenty-three.