Struggling through complexity to understanding is a similarity between poetry and mathematics. Beyond that basic connection, however, Harjo's poetry is not closely linked to mathematics. EXCEPT: One of her poems (found online at PoetryFoundation.org) follows a strict syllable count. In a birthday tribute to a friend who has turned seventy, Harjo has produced a seventy-line poem in which the syllable counts proceed as 1, 2, 3, 4, . . . , 69, 70. (In the terminology of OULIPO, Harjo has produced a growth-only snowball.) Here are the opening lines of Harjo's poem:
from Becoming Seventy by Joy Harjo
Knoxville, December 27, 2016, for Marilyn Kallet’s 70th birthday.
This poem was constructed to carry any memory you want to hold close.We
when the days
grew legs of night.
Chocolates were offered.
We ate latkes for hours
to celebrate light and friends.
We will keep going despite dark
or a madman in a white house dream.
Let’s talk about something else said the dog
who begs faithfully at the door of goodwill:
a biscuit will do, a voice of reason, meat sticks —
I dreamed all of this I told her, you, me, and Paris —
it was impossible to make it through the tragedy
without poetry. What are we without winds becoming words?
. . .
Here at PoetryFoundation.org you may read the complete poem. Enjoy -- and think of creating this sort of tribute yourself the next time an important friend has an important birthday!