Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Multi-Author Poem Celebrating Math-People

     At the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore last Friday evening, the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics (JHM) and SIGMAA-ARTS sponsored a poetry reading.  
Moderated  by Gizem Karaali, the pre-reregistered participants included
 Lawrence M. Lesser, Sarah Glaz, Ben Orlin, Rachel Levy, Luise Kappe,
Brooke C. Johnston, Douglas Norton, Claudia Gary, JoAnne Growney
In addition to poems by participants registered in advance, the event included a "crowd-sourced" poem.  Each person attending was invited to submit two lines of poetry about math-people -- and the pairs of lines were put together into a poem that I offer below.  MANY THANKS to these participants who gave us lines.
Order of contributors (2 lines each): David Reimann, Maru Colbert, Greg Coxson,
 David Flesner, Nancy Johnston, Kate Jones, Hunter Johnston, Debra Bordeau (4 lines), 
Luise Kappe (in German—with translation at end), Margaret Kepner, Thomas Atkinson,  
Brooke Johnston, Andrew Johnston, Ximena Catpillan, Bronna Butler, Courtney Hauf,
 JoAnne Growney, Doug Norton, Sean Owen, Eric Marland
Sending THANK-YOU to all of the authors, 
               I present below our poem, "We Love Mathematics."

We Love Mathematics

Mathematicians are meeting today—
ideas unfold in space, time, and hearts. 
   Math is the language of everyone
   Any part of everything began as a sum.   
A mathematician and synaesthete—
To him, digits of pi are a sensual treat.
   To be or not to be invariant – under transformation, 
   Filled with the beauty of symmetry – is my life's vocation!
Mathematicians, the creators of the most beautiful works of art,
   Yet will never be on the cover of Vogue.
In Syracuse two thousand years ago
Archimedes knew  how to screw the foe.
   Fibonacci made a snail code—
   I think it is time for beast mode.
Your parents hid your pens. paper, even clothes
They couldn't stop your brilliant mind—whirring, solving, deducing.*
    In Blake's art, you stare transfixed at the ground—
    But in circumscribing, you found the infinite.**
Hilbert sagt zu Hasse:
Emmy Noether, die ist Klasse!***
   A conjecture by Leonhard Euler
   Was felled by a ten by ten spoiler.
After decades of enjoying puzzles cubic
Last year, in April, I met Erno Rubik.
   Math, insufferable math, yet I carry on—
   All those people in so many ways carry on without me – yet I carry on.
The mathematician holds great power.
Invention springs from their numerical flowers.
   Zero, you are my favorite number—
   you are nothing, for some, yet completion for a big number.
Mathematicians don’t apologize
For their quest for beauty in maths, or art.
   I had breakfast with an old professor—
    she is continuously amazing.
Miss Church taught me high school math
She wore bright scarves and we loved class.
   She turned an interest into my life's path
   More than "how to" she taught me to love math.
'Twas Grebe taught me math could be my life
 math lovely in itself, serving no other.
   The language of the universe serves to connect
    cultures, genders, ages, a set not to bisect.

*On Sophie Germain
**On Newton
*** Translation from the German:
             Hilbert says to Hasse:
             Emmy Noether is in a class by herself! 

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! Let's make this a new tradition.
    What a great group of people, with math as their mission.