Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Census . . . correct counting is not easy. . .

     One of the challenges of applying mathematics is doing it correctly.  Each of us has a limited view, often affected by biases such as racism and sexism. And Covid-19 concerns have further-limited our access to accurate information in situations such as counting election-ballots or counting all Americans for the 2020 census.  The following thoughtful poem, "Census," is not new; it was first published in 1981.  What does it show us about counting?

     Census     by Carol Muske-Dukes

     Here's how we were counted: 
     firstborn, nay-sayers, 
     veterans, slow-payers, 
     seditionists, convicts, 
     half-breeds, has-beens, 
     the nearly defined dead, 
     all the disenfranchised live.

Monday, July 27, 2020

Prove it . . .

This post's title "Prove it" occurs several times within the poem,

DREAMers Mark Themselves     by Maricielo Ampudia Gutiérrez,

a poem (found here, followed by an author bio) that arrived in a recent e-mail from the socially-engaged poetry group, Split This Rock -- and I have been reflecting on its use of the term "prove it" as compared with mathematical usage.  The poem by Gutiérrez is included in a rich poetry database maintained by Split this Rock.
     One of the editors of the online journal Better Than Starbucks, Joseph E. Petta, has let me know of his liking for poems with links to mathematics and encourages submissions.  Petta's "Experimental & Form Poetry" section of the July August 2020 issue contains a thoughtful a thoughtful matrix poem, a word-prison:

Freedom        by Stuthi Iyer

Both of these poems offer ideas for thoughtful contemplation -- for math people and for others!

Friday, July 24, 2020

A favorite recursion . . .

      memories bring back

            memories bring back

                   memories bring back  

                          memories bring back

                                 memories . . .

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Finishing halfway . . .

     Recently I have enjoyed thinking about the poem "Bunny Slope" by Polish poet Tadeusz Dabrowski (found here in The Paris Review, Issue 219, Winter 2016) and offered below.
     When I write a poem, the first draft often is the longest -- I spill words onto the page and then attempt to edit out what does not need to be said.  When I read poetry, I like it when the poem does not "tell all" but offers a framework for my discovery.

Bunny Slope      by Tadeusz Dabrowski
                                   (translated from Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones)

     When I’m writing a poem,
     there’s less and less of it.

     As I approach the mountains,
     they vanish behind a gentle hill,
     behind the bunny slope. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Math-Arts Connections -- links to rich reading . . .

     The Table of Contents for the  latest issue of the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts offers titles for a rich array of "Artists Viewpoints" -- brief articles (assembled under the leadership of Guest Editor, Susan Happersett) in which artists who link mathematics with various genres talk about their views and processes.  (Access to these articles currently is FREE -- through 2020.)
     One of the 53 artists' viewpoints contained therein is mine, and here is a permanent link to that brief article ("Everything Connects") that links my mathematics and poetry.  Another math-poet whose work is featured is South Dakota mathematician Dan May, whose article "In the beginning all is null" features multiple-choice poetry.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Poetry contest winners --- π-ku

     The website is described as "a meeting-place for people who already know they like maths and would like to know more"  -- and one of its organizing forces is Katie Steckles Several weeks ago, Katie initiated a  π-ku poetry contest -- looking for 3-line submissions that follow the digits of the π-approximation 3.14.

          For example,      Green grass and
                                sky and sun's heat.
                                                                      In π-ku
                                                                      shrink what I think.

The numbers 3, 1, and 4 also may -- instead of counting syllables -- count words.

                  Today in July
                  pushes the temperature skyward.

To enjoy the winning results in the Aperiodical π-ku contest, go here.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

A thoughtful Fibonacci poem

     An email message from Washington, DC poet and blogger Karren Alenier alerted me to this mathy Fibonacci poem found online in the Summer 2020 Issue (#36) of The Fib Review.  The poet., Roberto Christiano, has given me permission to offer it to you here.

the irrational   by Roberto Christiano

c'est moi?
a number that
cannot be expressed by the
ratio of two integers / and what's an integer?  

Monday, July 13, 2020

Math-Poetry for a virtual BRIDGES Conference

     Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year's 2020 Bridges Math-Arts Conference will not be held.  One of the regular events at this international conference has been a poetry reading organized by mathematician and poet Sarah Glaz.  This year, Glaz has prodded math-poets to develop on-line videos of their poems and offers a wonderful program of poetry here at this link.  (Brief poet-bios and links to more info about each are also found at the preceding link.)

Participating poets, with links to their poetry videos are
Thank you, Sarah Glaz, for organizing and presenting all of this poetry!
We look forward to the forthcoming BRIDGES 2020 Poetry Anthology

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Wonderful math-poetry . . . in lots of online places

      Carol Dorf, poetry editor of the online journal, TalkingWriting, has been sharing (during the pandemic) daily poems via e-mail -- and occasionally they are a bit mathematical.  For example, "Morning Song" by Sawako Nakayasu (found here at has this opening line . . . .

     Every time, these days, it seems, an equation gets forced.  . . .

At, as at many poetry websites, there is an opportunity to search -- using, for example, "geometry" or "equation" -- and to find lots of poems with mathematical connections.

     Carol Dorf is a retired math teacher and a wonderful poet;  this link leads to poems from her published in this blog and this link leads to "Wild Equations,"   a collection of some the mathy poems found in TalkingWriting.

     An ongoing source of original and delightful math-poetry is the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.  Visit often and explore! 

AND, one more item . . .  Recently I revisited Issue 17 (Released November 1, 1917)  of The Cordite Poetry Review which has the theme "Mathematics."  That issue is online here.  Many of the poems seem at first quite distant from the theme -- but browsing the collection of 60 poems (selected by Fiona Hile) has proved thought-provoking.  Here is a sample, "Venn Diagram" by Caroline Williamson.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Life Lessons in Math and Rhyme

     One of my former colleagues at Pennsylvania's Bloomsburg University is statistician Reza Noubary.  This Iran-born mathematician has a love of poetry as well as mathematics and here are a few lines from his recent collection, Feelings and Dealings (Archway Publishing, 2020).

                    In a math book there is wisdom.
                    In a theorem there is a kingdom.
                    No solution can be made up or faked.
                    The reasoning buys you freedom.

There is a secret in every equation that provokes curiosity and passion.
To uncover it we need to see its beauty and realize
its worth to complete the mission.
The outcome is refreshing; it always results in long-term compassion.
It is satisfying as participants understand its
logic and its beautiful expression.

Thank you, Reza, for these words.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Independence . . .

     Tomorrow, July 4, the US celebrates "Independence" Day and I am reflecting on the following quote by Albert Einstein (1879-1955):

     How can it be that mathematics
     being after all a product of human thought 
          . . . independent of experience, 
     is so admirably appropriate
     to the objects of reality?
(found here, along with lots of Einstein quotes) 
I am trying to decide to what degree I agree with Einstein's words.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Opening our minds to New Views . . .

     One of the values of study of mathematics is that to make progress we must continually revise our ways of looking at things. (Yes, there can be numbers less than zero . . . Yes, there can be different sizes for infinite sets . . . And a challenge for our society today is to carefully reconsider our racism.   Recently the American Mathematical Society's Blog On Math Blogs has offered this thoughtful posting, "What does anti-racism in mathematics look like?"  
     From visual poet Karl Kempton (who celebrates a birthday today) I offer a visual-poetry reminder of multiple ways of viewing a situation -- illustrated by two views of dividing the number 8.

For more ways of looking at 8 and other mathematical poems by Kempton, go here.