Tuesday, March 31, 2020

She should have been on the Math Team

     National Poetry Month starts tomorrow and I hope that poetry can be a thoughtful focus for you in this time of crisis and confinement due to the coronavirus.  Join me in looking back to several previous posts of work by one of my favorite poets, Audre Lorde (1934-1992).

     "Hanging Fire"    about a girl who should have been on the Math Team
               "The Art of Response"
                         "Smelling the Wind

Lorde's collection, The Marvelous Arithmetics of Distance, may be found and browsed here.
For lots more poems about math-girls-and-women, go here.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Mathematics...underlies everything...said the poet

     I first met scientist-poet Mary Peelen via an 2019 interview of her by mathematician-poet Gizem Karaali in The Adroit Journal .  The conversation includes an introduction to Peelen's poetry collection, Quantum Heresies (Glass Lyre Press, 2019) in which she discusses her intent "to show how mathematics and physics underlie everything in my life . . ." Read more here.

       NUMBER THEORY     by Mary Peelen

       Forty one apples in the tree,
       red and round,

       praise awaiting gravity,
       wholly free of abstraction.

       When it comes to the primes
       and matters of religion,

       I defer to Pythagoras,
       his ancient cult and authority. 

Thursday, March 26, 2020

SUNSET poem -- guided by a Fano diagram

Warning:  even if you are not a mathy person, you will like the poem offered below!
     When a writer picks up her pen and starts to write, the initial phrases may be simply a ramble -- a pouring out of thoughts that might be able to be shaped into a poem.  Over the centuries, writers have used syllable-counts and patterns of rhyme to help them shape their word into the best-possible expressions.
     Earlier in this blog (in this 2016 posting) is a poem created by Black Hills State University mathematician Daniel May using a geometric structure called a Fano Plane.  I offer below another similarly-structured creation by May -- and, after the poem, a bit of explanation.
Fano Plane diagram

Sunset : October 11th      by Daniel May

it's late in the day and we’ve climbed up this rise.
i stare, too closely, into the
leaving of the light streaming through the treetops 
          from the next ridge over.

later, i'll wonder if looking into the sun makes me crazy,
or gives me secret terrible knowledge.
my last willful act will be staring directly into our star, 
          and it will be like burial at sun.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Celebrating 10 Years of Math-Poetry Blogging

     This blog's first posting, "Poetry of Logical Ideas" -- found here, occurred ten years ago today on March 23, 2010.    This link leads to a list of topics, poets, and mathematicians contained in the 1200+ postings made since then.
Word Cloud for this blog -- created at https://tagcrowd.com.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Honor World Poetry Day on 3/21 with a Math Poem

On March 21 each year, UNESCO World Poetry Day
Browsing down through this blog will lead you to lots of poems to read to celebrate that special day. In addition, here's something new -- I offer below part of a fine poem that I recently found again in an old collection, Verse and Universe, (Edited by Kurt Brown, Milkweed Editions, 1998). 

from     Reasons for Numbers     by Lisel Mueller (1924-2020)

          Because I exist

          Because there must be a reason
          why I should cast a shadow

          So that good can try to be better
          and become best
          and beginning grow into middle and end 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

What does this math-poetry blog contain?

An alphabetical list of TOPICS
and NAMES of all of the poets and mathematicians
cited in this blog is available here.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Keeping Track -- poetry with numbers

      The very fine poetry of Jane Hirshfield has been featured in several earlier blog postings.  And below, again -- with some lines from "Ledger," the title poem for her new collection, out this month. These lines find, as Hirshfield often does, both life-truths and poetry in numbers.

     Ledger     by Jane Hirshfield

     Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin is 3,592 measures.
     A voice kept far from feeling is heard as measured.
     What’s wanted in desperate times are desperate measures.
     Pushkin’s unfinished Onegin: 5,446 lines.   

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Observe Pi-Day by writing in Pilish

      Many poets use constraints to shape their writing but few are as constrained as mathematician Mike Keith who has written many works in Pilish -- that is, a language in which the flow of words have lengths that follow the digits of Pi.  In honor of 2020's Pi-Day on 3.14, I have developed a small bit of Pilish, a poem of sorts, which I offer below.

 Entering the term "Pilish" into this blog's SEARCH box finds these earlier postings that celebrate Pi
 The first 50 decimal digits are 3.14159265358979323846264338327950288419716939937510 . . .

Monday, March 9, 2020

"Numbers and Faces" and 23 more math poems

     "Numbers and Faces" is the title of a poem by W. H. Auden -- and I also have used it as the title of a collection of poems that I gathered into a small anthology for the Humanistic Mathematics Network in 2001.  The collection is out of print BUT is available here as a pdf -- and the Table of Contents is shown below:

Wednesday, March 4, 2020


Sunday, March 8, 2020
      Often it is difficult to find time for history in mathematics courses.  One rather concise way that some of us introduce math personalities into the classroom is through poetry.  Today, as part of Women's History Month, I offer links back to a sample of poems in previous postings that celebrate math-women.

Amalie "Emmy" Noether (1882–1935)
     Following stanzas about Noether's life and achievements, the poem ends with these lines:
                    Today, history books proclaim that Noether 
                    is the greatest mathematician
                    her sex has produced. They say she was good
                    for a woman. 

Monday, March 2, 2020

New math poems -- recently found online

     A couple of days ago an email brought me the Table of Contents of the latest issue (Vol. 42, Issue 1) of  The Mathematical Intelligencer -- and it had links to two poems that I hope that you also will enjoy.
     First was "The Day I Receive My Ph.D." by Arkaye Kierulf of Cornell University. Kierulf's poem begins with these lines:
          I’ll head out into the streets to hand out
          My dissertation abstract like discount-hotel flyers.
          For Christmas I’ll send copies of my diploma to  . . .
For Kierulf's complete poem go here.
     Also in this same issue of the Intelligencer -- and available at this link -- is the poem, "Remembering e" by Robert J. MacG. Dawson of Halifax University in Nova Scotia.  Dawson's math-poetry has been featured in several previous posting's in this blogVisit and enjoy!

     Additional very rich sources of mathematical poetry are the twice-yearly issues of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics (online here). The latest issue (January 2020) contains a folder of Statistical Poetry by Larry Lesser (many of Lesser's poems also are featured in this blog), and five additional poems:
     "Perfect (a poem)" by Joseph Chaney, "A Letter to Niccolò Fontana de Brescia" by Jessica Huey, "The Empress's Nose: A Parable, After Feynman" by Robert Dawson, "SIGINT signifier" by Terry Trowbridge, and "The Master Oiler" by Ernesto Estrada.