Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Reaching out . . .

Consider the geometry and community of  trees .  Can we learn from them?

          We plant two trees.

          Their trunks grow strong
          and straight--and parallel.
          Parallel lines don't meet.

          These trees, however--
          straight and tall and parallel--
          reach out with branches.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Visual, Poetical -- Mathematical Impressions

Art / Visual poetry      by Anatolii T Fomenko 

Statistical fantasy . .. imagining our random world . . .
     The art by Fomenko shown above conveys multiple meanings and thus is a good fit with both mathematics and poetry.  It invites contemplation -- give it some of your time! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Our place in the universe . . .

     Nanao Sakaki  (1923-2009) was a Japanese poet who began to wander the world after his term in the Japanese military in WWII -- and his poems give views of these travel experiences. He met Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg in the 1960s and his work has been noticeably influenced by theirs.  Here, from his collection Break the Mirror (Blackberry Books, 1996) is "A Love Letter" -- a poem that considers how the universe spreads out around us.

       A Love Letter      by Nanao Sakaki

       Within a circle of one meter
       You sit, pray and sing.

       Within a shelter ten meters large
       You sleep well, rain sounds a lullaby.

       Within a field a hundred meters large
       Grow rice and raise goats.       

Monday, June 18, 2018

Choose the right LINE

     Recently, looking through my copies of POETRY Magazine, in the September 2008 issue I found this quote (used as an epigraph) from a poet whose work I greatly admire, British poet Philip Larkin (1922-1985):

The whole point of drawing is choosing the right line.

Finding the Larkin quote led me to look back in my blog for poems that feature the concept of line  -- with its multiple meanings -- and I offer this link to search-results that offer a variety of choices for poems with line for you to explore.

And here are links to a couple of my own recent attempts to choose the right line:

    The online journal TalkingWriting has recently interviewed me
a portion of my poem, "My Dance is Mathematics,"  
that stars mathematician Emmy Noether.  
"They Say She Was Good -- for a Woman,"  features that same poem 
and some additional reflections on the struggles of women in mathematics.

Friday, June 15, 2018


Thinking today about ZERO -- zero tolerance, zero fear!

     In recent days, there's been widespread reporting of results of a study done by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concerning the large number of instances of sexual harassment in scientific professions, the most common type being   "degrading jokes and comments that made women feel excluded."
     These findings take me back to the 1980's and "affirmative action" at Pennsylvania's Bloomsburg University (where I was a member of the Mathematics Department).  The University had an Affirmative Action Officer who worked to help faculty and staff develop behaviors and policies that endeavored to end discrimination against women and minorities.  One important test of the appropriateness of an activity was a "symmetry test" -- if a remark or act did not seem proper when the roles of two participants were reversed, then the original was probably something to avoid. In those days, my male colleagues needed to reconsider some of their behaviors and I needed to overcome my fear of speaking up.
      The concept of  zero as "something" that signifies "nothing" is an ever-thought-provoking one.  In support of ZERO TOLERANCE -- with a goal of NOTHING, I offer the following poem, "The Zero," by Israel Har.   

Monday, June 11, 2018

Use MUSIC to enrich STEM teaching

     Last year this blog announced an online conference involving the use of song in teaching STEM subjects.  From one of the organizers, Gregory Crowther, I have this update -- announcing a second annual VOICES conference in September 2018:
       featured 40 presentations on teaching STEM subjects with music. 
       Presentation ideas are now being solicited for the 2018 conference
                     to be held on 26 September 2018.   All are welcome to enter!"

     Song lyrics often are poetry; here are links to several lyrics featured earlier in this blog:  "The Derivative Song" by Tom Lehrer,  Lines from "Mandlebrot Set" by Jonathan Coulton,  "Circle Song" and lines from "Hotel Infinity"  by Larry Lesser,  "Questions You Can't Ever Decide" by Bill Calhoun.  

Friday, June 8, 2018

More people are reading poetry!!

     In an email today from, I received a link to an article describing increases in the numbers of readers of poetry in recent years (comparing 2017 with 2012).  The article, published by the National Endowment for the Arts, is available here.   Although that article does not mention or credit the STEM to STEAM movement, I'd like to think it may be a factor in enlarging poetry's readership.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A visual poem

     One of the delights of today's Internet is that it enables us to find friends with common interests all over the world.  An email message from Tope Salaudeen-Adegoke of Nigeria has introduced me to one of his visual poems:
               "Coding Colonisation" is a visual poem written and arranged
               in the computer programming indentation of HTML/CSS. 
               The poem fuses what seem to be mathematics and poetry together . . ."
I have included this poem below; for those who wish background information, some explanation is given in this linked essay.  Please take time to explore the meanings coded here.

      /*Coding Colonisation */       by Tope Saludeen-Adegoke

       #menu nativity {

Monday, June 4, 2018

Nature's Examples of Fibonacci Numbers

     Recently I have been reexamining some of the treasures that have been on my bookshelves for a while.  One of these is Discovering Patterns in Mathematics and Poetry by Marcia Birken and Anne C. Coon (Rodopi B. V., 2008).  And, on page 60 of that collection,  I find "Fibonacci Time Lines" by Kansas poet Michael L.Johnson --  the poem is a lovely weave of the Fibonacci numbers with objects they count  (and was originally published in The Unicorn Captured (Cottonwood Review Press, 1980)) and, with the poet's permission, is offered below.

     Fibonacci Time Lines    by Michael Johnson

     curl, pine
     cone's swirl, goat's
     horn's turn, nautilus'
     shell's homing out, pineapple's whorl,
     sneezewort's branchings, hair's twist, parrot's beak's growth, 
     tusk's curve, monkey's tail's spiral, cochlea's whirl of sound, 
           Vitruvius' analogies, 
     Parthenon's geometry, logarithms' golden sections, time's way 
            through form, mind's acceleration on its helical vector 
            to death . . .

Here is a link to a host of poems linked to the Fibonacci numbers and found in earlier postings in this blog.