Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Poetry with Numbers -- from Lewis Carroll

     One of the timeless treasures on my bookshelves is a complete collection of work by Lewis Carroll (pen name for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, 1832-1898) -- writer, puzzler, math guy . . . Here's a poem I found in "Answers to Knot 1" in A Tangled Tale.  (The problem, Knot 1, is stated below the poem.)

from   A Tangled Tale     a response (by authors named below) to a puzzle posed by Lewis Carroll

        The elder and the younger knight
           They sallied forth at three;
        How far they went on level ground
           It matters not to me;
        What time they reached the foot of hill,
           When they began to mount,
        Are problems which I hold to be
           Of very small account.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Favorite -- most visited -- Posts

Because this blog has more than a thousand posts, spread over more than eleven years of posting, finding best information can be challenging.  The SEARCH feature in the right-hand column) and this linked file of names of poets and math-people and blog-content topics can be useful.  And, when time permits, browsing offers lots of fun.  Here, for the curious are the TOP TEN postings -- that is the postings that have had the most visitors since the blog's beginning in March, 2010.    


These are titles and links to the ten posts most visited in this blog since its beginning in 2010.

from September 2, 2010    Rhymes help to remember the digits of Pi   

from October 13, 2010   Varieties of Triangles -- by Guillevic

from March 29, 2010    "Mathematical" Limericks   

from February 11, 2011   Loving a mathematician (Valentine's Day and . . . )

from September 29, 2017   Poetry . . . Mathematics . . .  and Attitude  

from February 18, 2011   Srinivasa Ramanujan    

from January 8, 2016   The world is round . . . or flat!

from February 22, 2011    Poems of set paradox and spatial dimension

from  June 22, 2021    Interpreting Khayyam -- in Rhyme

from April 19, 2010      Poems with Fibonacci number patterns


Friday, July 23, 2021

Excitement from Finding a Proof . . . and then . . .

Recently I have been revisiting the poems that Sarah Glaz and I collected for the anthology, Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (AK Peters / CRC Press, 2008) and renewing my enjoyment of them.  Here, from page 146, is  a sample.

The Proof by Theodore Deppe
I could live like this, waiting on the roof
for the great egret that flies overhead
at just this time, measuring the sun's height
with my fingers to see if the moment's come,
Annie studying the horizon as she describes
the last minutes of a show she watched
in which some mathematician -
she didn't catch the name - labours seven years
to solve a proof he's been enthralled by
since childhood, and though Annie tuned in
too late to know the nature of the problem,
she loves the pure joy with which he looks
into the camera and announces, I've found it -
there are tears in his eyes - I've found it.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Love and Tensor Algebra

     Stanislaw Lem (1921-2006) was a Polish science fiction writer whose works have been widely translated.  Here is a poem of his (found here in a blog with final postings in 2007)  -- a poem that enthusiastically expresses love in the language of mathematics!

Love and Tensor Algebra      
                    by Stanislaw Lem (translated by Michael Kandel)

 Come, let us hasten to a higher plane
 Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn,
 Their indices bedecked from one to n
 Commingled in an endless Markov chain!

 Come, every frustum longs to be a cone
 And every vector dreams of matrices.
 Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze:
 It whispers of a more ergodic zone.  

Monday, July 19, 2021

Distance Melts . . . between math and poetry . . .

      One of my early math-poetry connections was with applied mathematician John Lew (1934-2006) who contributed often to the Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal (predecessor of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics -- in which this blog finds frequent math-poetry gems.)  With a doctorate in physics, Lew worked in applied mathematics for many years at the IBM Watson Research Center -- and maintained interests in literature and music, serving for a time as poetry editor of the Mensa Bulletin.  His sonnet below comes from his 1996 HMNJ article, "On Mathematics in Poetry."  Lew's complete article is available here.

      The Comet      by John Lew

      Near from infinity I came
               Drawn to your strong, unmoving light
      By some ascendance of its flame
              That charms the planets through their night.
      The distance melts, my spirit thaws,
              Sublimes, and in your radiance flies
      Soon, by the old, unchanging laws,
             An exhalation through the skies.
      Sweet perihelion!  May we touch,
            Our auras intermingle?  No,
      The impulse of my flight too much,
             I must again to darkness go;
      While you may stand, and watch my face
             Dwindle through trans-Plutonian space.

 An interesting controversy arose between Lew and me -- here is a link to a letter he wrote about a math-poetry "quiz" that I developed that had appeared in the American Mathematical Monthly (quiz available here).

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Mathematics Humor -- in rhyming verse . . .

      At the website KOMPLEXIFY! a mathematician named Travis celebrates his love of mathematics in various ways, including humor and verse.  He supplies lots of limericks and parodies, including Tom Lehrer's parody of "That's Entertainment" entitled "That's Mathematics" which  I offer below.  (Here is a link to the rich list of Travis' poetic postings.)

That’s mathematics!       by Tom Lehrer

Counting sheep
When you’re trying to sleep,
Being fair
When there’s something to share,
Being neat
When you’re folding a sheet,
That’s mathematics!

When a ball
Bounces off of a wall,
When you cook
From a recipe book,
When you know
How much money you owe,
That’s mathematics! 

Monday, July 12, 2021

Limericks about Graphs -- Prize-Winners

     A couple of weeks ago I posted information about prize-winning poetry in the Writing portion of the 2021 MoMath Steven Strogatz Contest for high school students.  After finding that I began to look for the results of earlier contests.  Apparently 2020 was the first year of these contests and in that year, also, poems were winners -- limericks (with related drawings) by Sarah Thau.  “Limericks and poetry are not a typical way to convey information about math,” admits Thau, “but I think it makes it more palatable than learning functions by rote.  Who doesn’t love a limerick?

      From her winning collection, entitled "Little Function Limericks," here is a sample of Thau's work:

The entire collection of Thau's limericks is found here.  

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Picture a Mathematician . . . describe HER . . .

     Mathematicians are not always white and nerdy and male . . . but, for the others who dare to specialize in science and mathematics, there are many stereotypes that need to be busted.  Written by Gioia De Cari, a former MIT student, the play "Truth Values" reveals a woman's experience as a student in a male-science environment.  And the documentary film, "Picture a Scientist" describes the unequal treatment -- and payment -- of female professors.

     While you are seeking ways to view Truth Values and Picture a Scientist perhaps you will want to write down some of your own views;  while you are gathering your thoughts, here are three of my syllable-square stanzas about women in math to reflect on.

Syllable-square thoughts about Math Women

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Numbers keep track of memories . . .

     Sometimes the specific nature of counting can help us, for a bit of time, to steer our thoughts for away from sadness.  Here is a poem in which numbers give a grieving partner a framework through which to speak.  (This selection is from The Widows' Handbook (Kent State University Press, 2014), an anthology gathered and edited by Jacqueline Lapidus and Lise Menn.)

      Camp Numbers     by Barbara Bald   

      I’ve been in these woods seven days,
      fed our fish twelve shrimp pellets,
      filled two hummingbird feeders with red juice,
      given our cat ten doses of pink medicine.

      I’ve live-trapped twenty-eight field mice
      with the Tin Cat trap you bought,
      rescued our Brittany’s toy four times from the river,
      seen one person, the gas man fixing the fridge, in two days.

      I’ve written thirteen poems,
      five about your untimely death,
      cleaned six cabinets to rid rodent remnants,
      replaced one roll of toilet paper in the outhouse.

      I am still waiting for one of you.

Learn more about poet and educator and nature-lover Barbara Bald here at her website.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Looking back . . . to previous posts . . .


Back in January 2020 I gathered a list of titles of previous posts and posted it here at this link.  And below I offer titles of postings -- with links -- since that time.

And, if you are looking for a post on a particular topic,
you are invited to explore the SEARCH feature in the right-hand column
OR to browse the list of  Labels (also to the right) -- and click on ones that interest you.
TITLES OF POSTS (with links) 
June, 2021    
      Encryption and Love   
      A Life Made to Count   
      A Few Lines of Parody   
May, 2021      
      Reflecting on Pi . . .   
      Keeping Track of Chairs   
      Mathy Jokes    
      Climate Concerns   

Monday, June 28, 2021

Math Communication with Poetry -- Strogatz Prize

Recently I have learned -- through Mo-Math (National Museum of Mathematics) -- of the of the Steven H. Strogatz Prize -- recognizing high school students for outstanding math communication projects.  Winners for the 2021 Contest were announced yesterday -- and information about upcoming contests is available here.

     This year's Strogatz winner in the Writing category was a poem by Julia Schanen, entitled "Math Person."  Below I offer Schanen's opening lines -- and the sample is followed by a link to the full text of her poem -- of mathematics and of the painful isolation that a 10th grade math girl often feels. 

Friday, June 25, 2021

One More Love Poem

     Expressing love with mathematical terminology is beautifully done in "One More Love Poem" by  Dunya Mikhail  -- this poem was offered by poets.org in their poem-a-day feature on April 2, 2021 and it deserves to be widely shared.

One More Love Poem     by Dunya Mikhail

       If I had one more day
       I would write a love poem
       composed of one word
       repeated like binary code.

       I’ll multiply it by the number
       of days that passed
       without saying it to you
       and I’ll add the days   

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Interpreting Khayyam -- in Rhyme

     Eleventh century Persian scholar Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) is described by Wikipedia as a polymath -- he was a mathematician, astronomer, philosopher and poet (and the foregoing Wikipedia link summarizes his accomplishments).  My former colleague, Reza Noubary, a math-stat professor at the Bloomsburg (PA) University, shares Khayyam's Persian heritage and also has a wide variety of achievements; one of his recent adventures has been with poetry.  In 2020 his poetry collection, Feelings and Dealings, appeared -- and this year has brought forth his collection Khayyam in Rhyme (Fulton Books, 2021).

     Khayyam in Noubary's volume is revealed as a mathematician through his thought-patterns more than through his words.  Here is an intriguing sample from Chapter 1 (available for online browsing here); this sample shows first, the original Farsi, followed by two "translations"of the four that are offered): 

Monday, June 21, 2021

Putting CALCULUS into a poem . . .

 Can our world be described using calculus?

     The poem-a-day offering this morning (6/21/21) from poets.org gives me new ideas about describing a problem-situation using some terms from mathematics.  I offer part of the poem below, followed by a link to the complete work.

from  Disintegrating Calculus Problem     by McKenzie Toma

A dramatic clue lodged in a rockface. Set in a shimmering sound belt slung around the grasses. Collections of numbers signify a large sum, a fatness that cannot be touched. Numbers are heart weight in script. Calculus means a small pebble pushed around maniacally. Binding affection, instead of fear, to largeness.  

Ideas are peeled into fours and pinned on the warm corners of earth to flap in a wind. Wind, the product of a swinging axe that splits the sums. This math flowers on the tender back of the knee.     . . . .

     McKenzie Toma's complete poem appears here (with other poem-a-day offerings at poets.org) and and here (along with several others of her poems).

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Images of a Complex World

     One of the treasures on my bookshelf is Images of a Complex World: The Art and Poetry of Chaos by University of Wisconsin poet Robin Chapman and physicist Julien Clinton Sprott (World Scientific, 2005).  The following image by Sprott accompanies a poem entitled "The Traveling Salesman's Problem is NP-Difficult." Beneath the art, I offer the poem's opening lines -- and the complete poem and other art-poetry samples from the collection are available at this link.   

an image of chaos by Julien Clinton Sprott
from:  The Traveling Salesman's Problem is NP-Difficult   by Robin Chapman 
     We were all for optimization of student opportunities

Monday, June 14, 2021

Encryption and Love

One of my recent book-acquisitions is The Woman who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone  -- a story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman who transitioned from teaching and scholarship to codebreaking and became a hero of the National Security Agency during the much of the first half of the twentieth century.   In this book I have found (on page 91, discussion of some of the ideas of information-theory pioneer Claude Shannon; the story of Elizebeth includes telling of her meeting and falling in love with another codebreaker, William Friedman, and Fagone brings Shannon into the story with this remark:

     . . . according to Shannon, making yourself understood by another person
        is essentially a problem in cryptology ... When you fall in love, you develop
        a compact encoding to share mental states more efficiently, cut noise,
        and bring your beloved closer.   All lovers, in this light, are codebreakers . . .

Also connecting love and mathematics is a poetry anthology from more than a dozen years ago -- a collection that I helped Sarah Glaz to gather and edit (and now available as an e-book):  Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (A K Peters/CRC Press, 2008).  On page 135, these cryptic lines from Rafael Alberti, used as an epigraph for the poem "Mathematics" by Hanns Cibulka.

                And the angel of numbers
                is flying
                from 1 to 2.

                                   --Rafael Alberti

Cibulka's "Mathematics" may be found here.  And this link leads to other postings in this blog that relate to Strange Attractors

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Every Seventeen Years . . .

Millions of Brood X 17-year cicadas have recently emerged in the Washington, DC area and they are the subjects of laughter, fear, recipes, and so on.  (Wikipedia information about these cicadas is available here.)  Washington Post writer John Kelly has asked readers to celebrate the cicadas with verse -- and below I offer one of the Haiku that Kelly gathered recently.

Found here in The Washington Post

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

A Life Made to Count

     The title of this blog-post is part of a headline from The Washington Post -- a headline for a review by GW Professor Lisa Page  of a posthumously published and recently released memoir by Katherine Johnson (1918 - 2020) :  My Remarkable Journey:  A Memoir, written with assistance from Joylette Hylick, Katherine Moore and Lisa Frazier Page (Amistad, 2021).

     As you might expect, numbers are at the center of Johnson's memoir -- numbers never intimidated Johnson — in fact, they thrilled her. The symmetry, the structural interplay of equations and formulas, were always in her head.  (Read a bit of the book here.)

     As Johnson looked back over her life of more than one hundred years, I too was prompted to looks back -- to an article of mine entitled "MATHEMATICS AND POETRY:  ISOLATED OR INTEGRATED?" and published in the Humanistic Mathematics Network Newsletter (forerunner of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics) in May, 1991 -- and available here.  And I can't resist quoting a bit from the article, sharing some phrases from the poem "Poetry" by Marianne Moore (1887-1972).

       . . . things are important not because a
       high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them
       but because they are useful . . . the same thing
       may be said for all of us—that we do not admire
       what we cannot understand. 

       [Not until we] can present for inspection,
       imaginary gardens with real toads in them
       shall we have it . . .

Moore's complete poem is available here.

Friday, June 4, 2021

A Few Lines of Parody

      Recently I re-found -- in my copy of The Mathematical Magpie by Clifton Fadiman (1904-1999)  (Simon and Schuster, 1962) -- these lines by Lewis Untermeyer (1885-1977):


    We drew our circle that shut him out,
    This man of Science who dared our doubt.
    But ah, with a fourth-dimensional grin
    He squared a circle that took us in.

Untermeyer's lines first appeared in his Collected Parodies.    Here is a link to a second edition (1997) of The Mathematical Magpie (for which the title page description includes:  stories, subsets of essays, rhymes, anecdotes, epigrams . . . rational or irrational . . .)

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Euclid and Barbie -- and attitudes toward math . . .

     Teacher-poet-musician Glen Brown has shared with me his mathy poem that has for its epigraph a controversial line once spoken (back in 1992) by Mattel's Teen Talk Barbie.   Brown makes playful use of a variety of math terms but with an somewhat sexist point of view.

     Euclid and Barbie      by Glen Brown
                                Math class is tough.

     Sure it doesn’t add up:
     countless camping and skiing trips with Ken,
     swimming and skating parties without danger,
     dancing and shopping engagements
     with Midge and Skipper
     like an infinite summer vacation.
     Nothing here hints at a dull math class
     for integral Barbie and her complex playmates!

Saturday, May 29, 2021

A Mathy Rhyme from Twitter

When I have a bit of extra time, it is fun for me to visit Twitter (my postings may be found as JoAnne Growney @MathyPoems) and to find introductions to lots of interesting topics in math and poetry -- and to lots of brief poems.   Recently I came upon the following post by Algebra Etc. @AlgebraFact.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

A Rhymer and an Analyst -- a Friendship

     Several recent emails have turned my attention again to Irish mathematician (?and poet?) William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865).  Available online here is Life of Sir William Rowan Hamilton by Robert Perceval Graves (Dublin University Press, 1882) -- and here is a link to a posting of a poem by Hamilton published in this blog back in 2011. Graves tells of the friendship between Hamilton and poet William Wordsworth and this link leads to some commentary about their connection.  Here are some of Wordsworth's words:

You send me showers of verses, which I receive with much pleasure, as do we all; yet have we fears that this employment may seduce you from the path of Science, which you seem so destined to tread with so much honour to yourself and profit to others. Again and again I must repeat, that the composition of verse is infinitely more of an art than men are prepared to believe, and absolute success in it depends upon innumerable minutia, which it grieves me you should stoop to acquire a knowledge of.

     Current investigation into the life of Hamilton has suggested that  parts of Graves' work has been misinterpreted and that -- over time --  Hamilton's reputation has undeservedly declined; here is a link to a 2017 article by Anne van Weerden and Steven Wepster, "A most gossiped about genius: Sir William Rowan Hamilton" -- an article that adds new insights into the Hamilton story.  

Monday, May 24, 2021

What does CANCEL mean? -- some poetic wordplay!

      Lawrence "Larry" Lesser is a professor in the Mathematical Sciences Department at the University of Texas in El Paso and a widely published creator of mathy poems.  Here are the opening stanzas of  a poem that appeared in the Winter 2021 issue of Teaching for Excellence and Equity in Mathematics (TEEM), a journal of the NCTM affiliate organization TODOS: Mathematics for ALL

 from     ₵AN
      by Lawrence Mark Lesser

      Cancel is from Latin for ‘make like a lattice’,
      like crisscrossed wood fencing
      in our backyard where we safely
      dine with friends,

      or like COVID-caused crossouts
      on calendars--  
      a cancelled appointment (dis-appointment)
      or music event (dis-concerting).

      Teachers don’t like saying ‘cancel’
      lest students get carried away,
      cancelling sixes of 26/65,  
      which does equal two-fifths 

Friday, May 21, 2021

MoMath Celebrates Limericks!

     New York's Museum of Mathematics celebrated National Limerick Day on May 12 with an online program of contributors reading their mathy limerick stanzas.  I did not learn of the reading in time to apply for participation but here is a sample I might have submitted.

       In baseball the diamonds are square--
            And the ball has the shape of a sphere.
            Nine guys make a team--
       So, two teams make eighteen--
       And fans cheer when plays come in pairs.

     The limericks read at the May 12 MoMath program may be found here  -- and here is a link to the results of a SEARCH in this blog for "limerick."  The sample offered above was posted long ago, back in April 2010.

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Reflecting on Pi . . .

     A few months ago I got an email from Adaobi Chiemelu, a Nigerian poet and spoken word artist who studied studied mathematics at the University of Nigeria.  Recently Adaobi has sent me one of their poems -- about division and infinity and pi and . . . 

Dividing Together     by Adaobi Chiemelu

The cake was holy communion
You picked one piece not fatter than your two fingers
You smiled
You watched as the next person went on to do same 
          and put the same in their mouth
You thought of pi     

Monday, May 17, 2021

Keeping Track of Chairs

 The first steps in mathematics . . . COUNTING!

      I grew up on a farm and keeping track by counting happened often -- counting chickens, counting sheep, counting the number of weeks until the early transparent apples will be ripe . . . and when I read Tom Wayman's poem in Poet Lore I found a similar habit of relentless counting.    I have not been able to obtain more than short-term permission for posting -- and so I offer here just a sample and, beneath, a a link to the full poem.

from Fifty Years of Stacking Chairs     by Tom Wayman

     Two of these chairs at a time
     are easily manageable, so back at the empty rows
     I fold three and haul them with both hands
     across the space. Next trip I try
     four: fingers on each hand curved
     under the metal backrests of
     two chairs. Fifty years 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Mathematical Forms in Poetry . . .

      During recent days, one of my special enjoyments has been finding time to read Marian Christie's blog -- a delightful collection of poetry and poetic musings with frequent connections to mathematics.  Christie's biographical sketch (available here) indicates that she, like me, grew up enjoying both poetry and math.  She became a math teacher and, after her years of teaching ended, she turned her attention to poetry.  Below I present a sample of her mathy poetry, followed by links to several of her postings.

Today, in a season that is approaching summer, I coolly offer Christie's "Midwinter" poem (found here in her blog)  -- a stanza in which the poet uses Pascal's triangle to pattern her words:

a Pascal-triangle poem -- find it and lots of other mathy poems here.

Here, next, are links to several of Christie's math-poetry blog postings.  ENJOY!

Monday, May 10, 2021

Mathy Jokes

     In a recent search for funny mathy poems I have discovered the collection by G. Patrick Vennebush pictured below as well as a sequel to that edition and a related blog.

Book info available at this link.
Although most of the jokes are not poetic, some are.  Here is a brief sample from the blog:

                 With my head in an oven
                 And my feet on some ice,
                 I’d say that, on average,
                 I feel rather nice!

Read more and enjoy . . .

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Climate Concerns

      Ideas become internalized when we WRITE about them -- and I encourage students AND all of us to write about climate change and efforts to save our planet.  And then to act on our words!   Here are three small syllable-squares, first appearing in a post more than ten years ago and expressing my ongoing concerns for precarious imbalances we have created within our natural environment.

This link leads to several previous posts found using the search terms climate change.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Celebrate Math-Women -- Celebrate AWM

1   This
2   year's the
3   fiftieth
4   birthday of the
5   Association
6   for Women in Mathe-
7   matics.  Join celebrations --
8   hear lectures, game with playing cards,
9   interview, write essays that feature
10  math women you admire.  Speak up -- cheer girls
11  who do well in math class; look back, remember,
12  laud stars of the past  --  support A W M.

 The Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) is a national organization devoted to encouraging women and girls to study and to have active careers in the mathematical sciences, and to promote equal opportunity and the equal treatment of women and girls in the mathematical sciences.  Founding in 1971 and celebrating math-women with outreach, networks and partnerships, playing cards, essay contest (for students in middle school through college) . . . and so much more.

Explore AWM's Website and their lively WOMEN DO MATH site.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Polyform Puzzles -- presented in verse

     Many math-loving folks gather periodically at meetings called  G4G (Gatherings for Gardner) to celebrate the life and contributions of Martin Gardner (1914-2010) -- a versatile author whom I know best from his "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American -- a column that often connected math and poetry. 

     Here is a link to the YouTube channel for G4G Celebrations -- a place to view presentations of ideas that honor the spirit of Martin Gardner.   For one of the recent meetings of G4G (online due to Covid), graphic artist and designer of recreational mathematics puzzles, Kate Jones, offered a visual and poetic presentation entitled A Periodic Table of polyform puzzles.

This is the 3rd slide of Jones' presentation, "A Periodic Table of polyform puzzles"

      This link leads to a pdf of the 29 slides of Jones' presentation and this link leads to a 24-minute PowerPoint recording of the production; eventually this event will be available on the YouTube Channel noted above.   Jones describes this creation in this way:  It’s like a very condensed book on the subject; using rhymed couplets allowed for even more compact delivery of the information.  She adds:  at the gamepuzzles website, the various individual items in the puzzles can be seen more simply.

     Here is a link to an earlier posting in this  blog that includes a Fibonacci poem by Jones -- created for the 2016 meeting of G4G.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

A Visit to Mathland -- where Reason rules!

Published in 1979 by PRIMARY PRESS, out of print -- try your library!

Before purchasing this anthology (found at a math conference) I had never seen a collection of mathy poems -- but then, many years later, I helped to edit one (Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics).   Today I offer an old favorite from Against Infinity  -- the poem "A Visit to Mathland" by Naomi Replansky (born May 23, 1918):

A Visit to Mathland  by Naomi Replansky  (for M., Z., and L., citizens thereof)

 I was a timid tourist
 to the land of mathematics:
 how do you behave in a country
 where Reason rules?   

Monday, April 26, 2021

Mean, Median, Mode -- and Poetry and Bananas!

 A wonderful resource for mathy poems for students is  “S.T.E.A.M. Powered Poetry Videos for Pk-8”  -- and I have recently connected there with poet and teacher, Heidi Bee Roemer; I offer a sample of her work below:

This poem --  and much more -- found at https://steampoweredpoetry.com/.

Across the curriculum, “S.T.E.A.M. Powered Poetry Videos for Pk-8” promotes poetry in the classroom using multiple methods and strategies. In addition to kid-friendly poetry videos, this vlog features crafts, classroom activities, and reference lists for related children’s books that offer additional information on each poem’s subject.  Learn more at this link about Heidi Bee Roemer and her collaborators.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Earth Day -- are we the FINAL ones?

Tomorrow (April 22) is Earth Day.  This worried poem is structured using
The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic.
(Some explanatory notes follow the poem.)

"We Are the Final Ones"  by JoAnne Growney

Monday, April 19, 2021

Poetry by Math Students

     Mathematics Teacher Lisa Winer (St Andrews School, Boca Raton, FL) enjoys giving her students new sorts of learning experiences.  In her eatplaymath blog, I found the results of her suggestion that students submit mathy poems to their school literary magazine.  I offer below the first of the poems in the collection that Winer offers; go here to read more -- AND, consider a poetry project for math students that YOU know!

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

    I am bad at math   (read top to bottom)
       I am horrible at math
       So I'll never say that
       I can get an A.
       But, if I try my hardest
       I will fail. 

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Parody with Limericks

     A limerick is a five-line rhyming verse, usually humorous, often earthy and rude.  Various limericks have appeared previous postings in this blog -- this one comes from the online journal Parody -- Poetry for the world as it really isn't.


I found Norwood's sexist limerick here in a July 2013 posting in ParodyHere is a link to previous postings in this blog of mathy limericks.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Pi-ku Contest in Australia -- deadline Two Pi Day

     Using syllable counts to help to craft poems has been with us since the sonnet and this blog has often presented square poems and Fibs and Pilish and . ..  and today we again focus on the digits of  πOn Pi-Day (3/14) Australia's Cosmos Magazine opened a Pi-Ku Contest which asks for brief Haiku-like poems whose syllables-per-line are counted by the first six digit of the decimal value of  π (Contest information is available at this link.)  Entries must be submitted by 2Pi-Day, or 6/28.

     Here are two mathy samples from the Cosmos contest-information site 

        Learning STEM
        remember science,
        technology, engineering, maths. 
    by Jennifer Chalmers

        To say safe,
        an area
        Pi times one point five
        metres squared around yourself always.
       by Lauren Fuge  

Other poetry forms shaped by the digits of  π include π-ku and Pilish.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A Scientist's Math-Poetic Memoir

     Madhur Anand is a poet and a professor of ecology and environmental science at the University of Guelph in Ontario – her work has been noted here in earlier postings in this blog  -- and today I want to introduce readers to her memoir, This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart (Penguin Random House, 2020).  

     On the opening page we find these poetic lines:

     Biexponential Function     by Madhur Anand    

     I have of a
     book from my
     childhood is one
     entitled I Know What
     I Like
.  I remember the    

Monday, April 5, 2021

Mathy Poets plan for 2021 BRIDGES Conference

      The Annual BRIDGES Math-Art Conference will be virtual again this year (August 2-6, 2021) and mathematician-poet Sarah Glaz has developed an online array of poets and poetry to be part of this program.  Bios and sample poems are already available here.

      Participating poets include:  Marian Christie, Carol Dorf, Susan Gerofsky. David Greenslade, Emily Grosholz, JoAnne Growney, Lisa Lajeunesse, Marco Lucchesi, Mike Naylor, Osmo Pekonen, Tom Petsinis, Eveline Pye, Any Uyematsu, Ursula Whitcher -- and, also, these open-mike participants: Susana Sulic, S. Brackert Robertson, Stephen Wren, Marion Deutsche Cohen, Connie Tetteborn, Jacob Richardson, Robin Chapman. Stephanie Strickland.  (Bios and sample poems here.)

     Here is a sample from the BRIDGES poetry program:

Descartes   by Eeva-Liisa Manner
                        translated from the Finnish by Osmo Pekonen

I thought, but I wasn't.
I said animals were machines.
I had lost everything but my reason.  

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

2000 plastic bags in the stomach of a camel!

     When creating a poem, I often find that first choosing a pattern of syllable counts can be very helpful in guiding me into careful word choices.  I have used the Fibonacci numbers as a guide to forming the following lines. Information for these lines has come from a frightening story by Marcus Eriksen  (March 23, 2021 in the Washington Post).   

world from
plastics,  Now!
Don't allow more deaths
of desert camels, painful deaths
caused by eating humans' trash within its plastic bags --
chewed plastic not digestible --
causing ulcers and
lots of pain,

After a pair of 1's to start the sequence, each succeeding Fibonacci number is the sum of the preceding two numbers:  Above we have (climbing and then reversing):  1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1.

Monday, March 29, 2021

A Poetry Cube

      Gregory Coxson, professor and researcher in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the US Naval Academy, is a supporter of integration of the arts with the sciences and enjoys writing poems.  (Here is a link to his previous appearances in this blog.)   Recently Greg has sent me what he calls a CUBE poem (6 stanzas, 6 lines per stanza, 6 syllables per line).   It's FUN to read -- I offer it below:

If I Wrote Poetry     by Gregory Coxson

If I wrote poetry
  It would be efficient,
Stripped-down, like Chinese art,
  Only the sparest lines
Placed by easy habit
  Learned from ten thousand tries    

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Happy Birthday, Amalie "Emmy" Noether!

      Emmy Noether (1882-1935) is one of my heroes -- and my first posting in this blog, on March 23, 2010, celebrates her -- as do a bunch of other more recent postings.

Above, the epigraph for my poem about Noether, "My Dance is Mathematics."

Sunday, March 21, 2021

UNESCO World Poetry Day

     TODAY, March 21 is UNESCO World Poetry Day:  click on this link for a wealth of information and poetry resources:  UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature join forces to celebrate World Poetry Day 2021 | Creative Cities Network.

"Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas." 

--- Albert Einstein

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Probe the gaps between prime numbers . . .

     Each issue of The New Yorker offers poetry, but seldom do the poems link to mathematics.  However, the issue for March 8, 2021 offers us "Number Theory" by poet and translator Rosanna Warren.  Here are a few of its lines:

        . . .   like you, inquisitive.  You sit
       taut in  your chair, whispering, as you probe
       the gaps between prime numbers.  Until infinity.

       It's pattern you seek.  The opening through which
       your thought will glide suddenly into a lit space
       and be at home.   . . .

Here is a link to Warren's complete poem.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Thoughtful Poetic Paradox . . .

     Recently, looking through old piles, I found an article of mine that appeared almost twenty years ago in The Humanistic Mathematics Network Journal -- an article entitled "Journal Review: Third International Anthology on Paradoxism" (a book now available here).  Paradoxism makes heavy use of opposites, as in these examples:

SCAPEGOAT   by Florentin Smarandache (editor of Paradoxism Anthology)

Even if he didn't
he did

MULTIDISCIPLINARY     by Florentin Smarandache

History or art
Or the art of history

ORDER     by Paulo Bauler (Brazil)

Someone with all the reasons is
Somebody with no reason

DISCOVERERS    by Maria do Carmo Gaspar De Oliveira (Brazil)

Portuguese discovered Brazil
Already discovered by Indians

Visit the review -- or, even better, obtain the Anthology -- to read more.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

MATH-GIRL gives us Pi

     Sunday, 3/14, will be Pi-day and I celebrate here with a comment in Pilish from my imagined author MATH-GIRL.  And before the poetic words let me call to attention a non-imaginary story about an amazing woman who calculated trillions of digits of pi.   Go here for an NPR story about the Guinness World Record set by Emma Haruka Iwao

     MATH-GIRL calculates PI

       3.    Now
       1    a
       4    girl --
       1    a
       5    suave
       9    innovator
       2    of
       6    future
       5    style
       3    and
       5    sharp
       8    numeracy --
       9    carefully
       7    fathoms
       9    diameters
       3    for
       2    us.
                 .  .  .

What are the next words that you see for MATH-GIRL? 

Here is a link to several previous Pi-Day/Pilish postings in this blog.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Internat'l Day of the Woman--Name 5 Math-Women!

      Today, March 8, is International Day of the Woman for 2021.  I continue to consider the challenge that I heard offered lots of years ago concerning women in the art world,  Name FIVE.  Each of us who cares about mathematics should be able to name at least five women who made important contributions to the field.  A wonderful resource is this website "Biographies of Women Mathematicians" -- maintained by Larry Riddle of Agnes Scott College that tells of the important lives of math women. 

Here are a few lines that from a poem I wrote that celebrates algebraist Amalie "Emmy Noether" (1882-1935); read more here.

       Emmy Noether's abstract axiomatic view
       changed the face of algebra.
       She helped us think in simple terms
       that flowered in their generality. 

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Free Minds add, count . . . and . . .

     Free Minds is an organization that uses books, creative writing, and peer support to awaken incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youths and adults to their own potential.  Learn more here about this vital organization -- and reflect on this poem by a Free Minds member:   

     Today’s Mathematics    by JO

      30 minutes of chaos
      Plus 1 Public Pretender
      Plus 1 judge
      Equals 39 years
      16 years, with about 5 of those drug and alcohol-induced
      Produces a very impressionable mind
      Countless days filled with violence
      Equals a whole lot of trauma
      Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Moorish Science, History
      Plus studying mysteries
      Equals a solid understanding
      Empathy plus suffering
      Equals a road to redemption

I found the poem at this link; the Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop website posting also offers the opportunity for readers to make comments.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Celebrating Math-Women -- Caroline Herschel

      In the United States, March is National Women's History Month -- and today I am looking back to previous postings that celebrate astronomer and mathematician Caroline Herschel.   In her collection Letters from the Floating World, artist and poet Siv Cedering (1939-2007) has given us a poignant portrait of this math-woman:
      Letter from Caroline Herschel
(1750-1848)     by Siv Cedering

     William is away, and I am minding
     the heavens. I have discovered
     eight new comets and three nebulae
     never before seen by man,
     and I am preparing an Index to
     Flamsteed's observations, together with
     a catalogue of 560 stars omitted from
     the British Catalogue, plus a list of errata
     in that publication. William says

     I have a way with numbers, so I handle
     all the necessary reductions and
     calculations. I also plan
     every night's observation
     schedule, for he says my intuition
     helps me turn the telescope to discover
     star cluster after star cluster.                   . . .

The rest of this poem is found here in this posting from 2012.

 Additional poetry that celebrates Herschel may be found at this link.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Filling my coffee cup . . .

      When I am asked to give a poetry workshop that includes people who have not written poetry, I find that asking them to concentrate on syllable-counts per line helps them to lose their apprehension about finding suitable words.  And here is a silly sample that illustrates that notion.

A syllable-snowball, growing layer by layer!

Filling my new coffee cup

     cup begins
     half full – I add
     more --  one-quarter-cup   
     to make three-fourths, one-eighth
     to reach seven-eighths, next add     
     one-sixteenth, and so on, never
     overflowing  --   almost, almost full.           

A syllable-snowball is a poem built from a sequence of lines whose whose syllable-counts increase (or decrease) by one from line to line.  Here is a link to the results of a blog-search that offers additional examples of snowballs. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

In the Space of Certain Dimensions

Browsing at Poets.org I found this fascinating poem by Anne Tardos and she has give me permission to post it here.

     NINE, 40     by Anne Tardos

     Take a good look, she says about her inventory.
     Palatially housed, her inflammatory and multifaceted
          set of selves.
     Old brain inside the new brain, inside the skull.
     The exact velocity of quantum particles cannot be known.
     Like wave equations in the space of certain dimensions.
     I never thought that things would go this far.
     Angular momentum of closely-knit and sexually
         adventurous people.
     Any piece of matter, when heated, starts to glow.
     It’s that kind of relationship that’s built on friction.

The poem "NINE, 40" is included in Tardos' collection NINE (BlazeVOX Books, 2015).

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Mathematician, astronomer, poet -- and female

 An amazing woman -- Wang Zhenyi!

     In this article in April Magazine, we can learn of her achievements:     Born in 1768 in a family with educated scholars and lots of books, Wang Zhenyi transcended the barriers for female education and became an astronomer and mathematician, and one of the greatest scientists in Chinese history.   She applied her calculations skills to celestial movement and also to books that made calculations simple for beginners.  Her short life ended at age 29.

     Beyond her scientific achievements, Wang Zhenyi also was a poet; in their profiles of this outstanding scientist (There's a crater on Venus named for her!) both April Magazine and Wikipedia give sample stanzas;  here is one:

    It’s made to believe,
    Women are the same as Men;
    Are you not convinced,
    Daughters can also be heroic?

And here, in The Folding Chair is still more about Wang Zhenyi (and about other women "who weren't given a seat at the table.")

Monday, February 15, 2021

Measure the Skies

     Born around 1753, Phillis Wheatley was the first enslaved black poet in America to publish a book.  Here is a stanza from her poem, "On Imagination" -- found here at Poets.org.

           Imagination! who can sing thy force?
     Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
     Soaring through air to find the bright abode,
     Th’ empyreal palace of the thund’ring God,
     We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,
     And leave the rolling universe behind:
     From star to star the mental optics rove,
     Measure the skies, and range the realms above.
     There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,
     Or with new worlds amaze th’ unbounded soul.
       . . .

Wheatley's poem “On Imagination” was published in Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral (A. Bell, 1773).  Born in West Africa, at the age of eight Phillis Wheatley was kidnapped, enslaved in New England, and sold to John Wheatley of Boston.  More about the short life (1753-1784) and achievements of this amazing person is available here at poets.org and here is a link to several more of her poems.

In poetry, as in mathematics, we celebrate Imagination!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Valentine Haiku

     Since 2011 February has been National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo); serious celebration of this event requires writing a Haiku each day;  for this year's Valentine's Day, I offer a mathy Covid-Valentine Haiku. 

LOVE has 4 letters --
2 for my hands, 2 for yours.
We wave, keep distant.

For the NaHaiWriMo blog, go here.

Find lots of MATHY VALENTINES by following this link
                                                         to the results of a blog SEARCH using the term "Valentine"