Thursday, April 30, 2020

Poetry and Math -- online audio -- 2020 census, etc

     Today (with poems in our pockets) we celebrate the final day of National Poetry Month and National Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month and I offer to you two math-poetry links to browse and enjoy.
     This first link leads to an NPR Code Switch podcast that concerns the 2020 census -- "When Poets Decide Who Counts" -- and five poets-and-poems are presented in a discussion of the fairness/unfairness of the census-count.  (One of the poems, "American Arithmetic" by Natalie Diaz, has also appeared in this blog.)
     This next link leads to another podcast  -- this one entitled "What's math got to do with poetry?" and a creation of science writer Stephen Ornes, in his blog, Calculated (Thank you, Stephen, for inviting me to participate in your podcast and to read several poems.)

Monday, April 27, 2020

National Poem-in-your-Pocket Day -- April 30, 2020

     The following stanza by  award-winning children's author,  Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, (1914-2000), has led to an annual celebration in US schools of "Poem-in-your-Pocket" Day:

          Keep a poem in your pocket 
          and a picture in your head     
          and you'll never feel lonely
          at night when you're in bed.  

This year's Poem-in-your-Pocket Day will be celebrated on Thursday, April 30.  Here is a link to  "Counting and Math Rhymes" -- a website that offers a variety of choices for young people's pockets.  My own pocket -- and my mind, during these days of pandemic confusion -- will be holding lines from Carl Sandburg's "Arithmetic":

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Considering my Point of View

       Today, on Earth Day, I am listening to news of the COVID-19 pandemic and wondering how to interpret what I hear . ..  

"Do you see the center . . . " by William Elliott

Elliott's poem appears on my shelf in the math-poetry anthology,  Against Infinity, edited by Ernest Robson and Jet Wimp (Primary Press, 1979).

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Geometry of Love

     A journal that I love to browse is the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics -- and recent quarantining has been a bit like my youthful experience of being "snowed in" and thus having extra time for reading.  At the JHM site, I was drawn to this article by Robert Hass, "John Cheever's Story 'The Geometry of Love'."  Before reading Haas' analysis, I sought to read the original story -- available here (a pdf-file of its appearance in 1966 in The Saturday Evening Post).
      Short story writer John Cheever (1912-1982) and JHM author Robert Haas explore (with some humor) the question: how can Euclidean geometry help us find our ideal world of truth and happiness.  Read and enjoy!
     Since this is a math-poetry blog, I add a tiny rhyme of mine:

               The Geometry of Love

               I like the intersection line
               that your plane makes with mine.

For lots and lots more fiction-with-mathematics, visit this wonderful website maintained by Alex Kasman of the College of Charleston.  

Friday, April 17, 2020

April 22 is EARTH DAY -- Remember the TREES

Can planting billions of trees save our planet?
Trees help cleanse the air by intercepting airborne particles, reducing heat, 
and absorbing pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. 
Trees are sound barriers -- as effective as stone walls in stopping sound.

     Today this blog celebrates TREES via poetry by Australian visual artist and poet, Belinda Broughton -- her performance-poem "EDGES" has been part of an exhibition, Solastalgia at Fabrik, in Lobethal, South Australia -- and here in this video she performs the poem in front of a drawing that she created with charcoal from her recently burnt home, tragically part of Australia's recent and widespread outbreak of wildfires.  
     I include below, some of the opening and closing lines of Broughton's poem;  after these, I offer a link to the print version of the complete poem.

     Edges     by Belinda Broughton

     Who will speak for the trees? Who     will speak for the trees?
     Who will speak for the forest, for that part
     of the natural world? Because it’s all nature, let’s face it,
     even this crass world with its concrete and steel,
     its plastic paint and polluted pavements.
     It   is   nature.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Inclusion-Exclusion -- the power of the CIRCLE!

On my mind today, this poem by U.S. poet Edwin Markham (1852-1940):

          Outwitted     by Edwin Markham

          He drew a circle that shut me out--
               Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
          But Love and I had the wit to win:
               We drew a circle that took him in!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Haiku Poetry Day -- coming soon!

     My internet explorations find celebrations of Haiku Poetry Day described for both April 17 and April 18   -- my own recommendation is that you celebrate every day the beauty of language and meaning that can come when we thoughtfully limit our syllable-count.  I try to do that below.


Exponential growth:
small numbers doubling quickly--
a world upended!

Both mathematics and poetry honor concise language.  Here, from the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics is a wonderful collection  -- "Math in Seventeen Syllables:  A Folder of Mathematical Haiku," published in the January, 2018 issue.    ENJOY!  

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Celebrate the lives of MATH-WOMEN via POEMS!

     This week I have learned that a lovely presentation of my poem, "With Reason  A Portrait of Sophia Kovalevsky," has been published in the April 2020 issue of Mathematics Teacher.
 The Kovalevsky poem is available here-- 
please read and enjoy!
      I have found that POEMS about mathematicians not only can serve to celebrate those lives but also provide a meaningful way to introduce these important people into math classes.  Here are several links to previously posted poems that speak of the lives of math-women:
   Sophie Germain (1776-1831)                      Florence Nightingale  (1820-1910)
   Amalie "Emmy" Noether  (1882-1935)      Grace Murray Hopper (1906 - 1988)

Readers may find more poems about special people by scrolling through postings or by using a blog-SEARCH.  Names available for SEARCH may be found in this document.  And here is a link to a blog-SEARCH using the terms "math women". 

Monday, April 6, 2020

Uncertainty persists . . .

      In these days of coronavirus uncertainty and risk, my thoughts are drawn again and again to this couplet:

The Secret Sits     by Robert Frost (1874-1963)

     We dance round in a ring and suppose,
     But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

Lots more of Frost's words are available here.

And, as the coronavirus pandemic delays baseball season, here are additional Frost-thoughts:

     Poets are like baseball pitchers. 
     Both have their moments.  The intervals are the tough things.  

Friday, April 3, 2020

The Woman Who Bested the Men at Math

     An American Mathematical Society Page-a-Day Mathematics calendar, compiled by mathematician and free-lance writer Evelyn Lamb, has let me know today that tomorrow, April 4, marks the birthday of mathematician Philippa Garrett Fawcett (1868-1948), who became, "in 1890, the first woman to score the highest mark of all the candidates for the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge University." 
     Learn more about Philippa Fawcett at this website, "Biographies of Women Mathematicians,: --  maintained by Emeritus Professor Larry Riddle at Agnes Scott College.  Riddle's biographic sketch of Fawcett includes a poem of anonymous origin that celebrates her 1890 achievement.  Here are its opening stanzas:

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Math Poettary -- continuous, but not differentiable

     A few weeks ago I was introduced via email to Gauarav Bhatnagar, a mathematician now at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India.  In addition to varied and deep mathematical and educational interests, Bhatnagar likes to play with words; here are a couple examples of his poetic wordplay -- or, as he calls it, poettary.

        Continuous function     by Gaurav Bhatnagar

        A continuous function,
        draw it without
        picking up pencil
        from paper.

        At all points,
        the left hand limit