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
        is
        necessary.
        Do
        remember science,
        technology, engineering, maths. 
    by Jennifer Chalmers

        To say safe,
        Keep
        an area
        of
        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    

     The
     sharpest
     memory
     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).   

Save
the
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,
leading
to
death.

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 a 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

     My
     coffee
     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"
.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

A Math-Poetry Essay -- in the Time of Corona

     Springer Publishing is developing an e-book, Mathematics in the Time of Corona, an online collection of various reactions to the pandemic – due for release sometime in May 2021.  One of the chapters to be included is by me, “Counting Syllables, Shaping Poems:  Reflections”  and this 4-page essay of mine will be available for free online reading (and download) until the end of March at this link:  Counting Syllables, Shaping Poems: Reflections | SpringerLink.

Pandemic   (Haiku)

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

To explore other postings of Haiku in this blog, click on this link.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Journal of Humanistic Mathematics -- new issue

      Recently released, Issue 1 of Volume 11 (2021) of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics;  in it Editors Mark Huber and Gizem Karaali have collected for us  a wonderful selection of articles -- including a work of fiction, a folder of teaching limericks, and the following very fine (and mathy) poems:

"Early Morning Mathematics Classes"     by Angelina Schenck

       "Proof Theory"      by Stan Raatz

"One Straight Line Addresses Another Traveling in the Same Direction 
     on an Infinite Plane
"       by Daniel W. Galef

       "Turing's Machine"      by Mike Curtis 

"Iterations of Emptying"      by Marian Christie 

Go here to JHM Volume 11 to explore, to enjoy!

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Poetry from a Math Professor in China

 Does our language shape our thoughts?

Professor Ya Shi – a pen name meaning “mute stone” – teaches university-level mathematics in his home province of Sichuan, China, AND he is also an award-winning poet; recently published is Floral Mutter (Zephyr Press, 2018) a bilingual collection that includes the poems in their original Chinese along translation of Ya Shi's work by by Nick Admussen, poet and Asian Studies professor at Cornell University.  Admussen's preface gives us background information about Ya Shi.  Here is his very fine "Sorrow Poem":

Sorrow Poem     by Ya Shi  (translated by Nick Admussen)

Today, on a day in May, a shattering noise. 
At the lakeside, the green mint asks me to sit and practice forgetting.

At the university where the golden snub-nosed monkey took a position,
everywhere the noise of chains, the noise of alphabet-letters.
  

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Celebrate Black History with Poetry

     In February now, Black History Month, I look back to one of my favorite poets, Langston Hughes (1902-1967) and bring to you, again, one of his mathy poems: 

      Addition     by Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

     7 x 7 + love =
     An amount
     Infinitely above:
     7 x 7 − love.

 Hughes' poem "Addition" is found in Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics (A K Peters/CRC Press, 2008) and was first posted in this blog on February 20, 2011.

This link leads to results of a blog SEARCH for previous postings for "Black History Month."

Monday, February 1, 2021

What will the groundhog predict?

     Having grown up in western Pennsylvania, not far from Punxsutawney, I have long been interested in Groundhog Day -- on February 2, a legendary groundhog emerges from its burrow and predicts whether the current year will have an early spring.  This year I celebrate with a Fib, a stanza whose syllable counts follow the Fibonacci numbers:

       Will
       the 
       groundhog --
       tomorrow --
       see its shadow, doom
       us to six more weeks of winter?

Here is a link to a SEARCH list of previous blog postings for Groundhog Day.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today, January 27, is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Looking for mathy poems to connect to this theme I found this posting at jstheater.blogspot.com with lines by 1966 Nobelist Nelly Sachs (1891-1970) and Paul Celan (1920-1970).  Here is a sample of what is found there:

from Nelly Sachs, 

       The crooked line of suffering
       stumbling along the godfired
       geometry of the universe . . .

              from Paul Celan, "Draft of a Landscape,"

                    Circular graves, below.  In
                    four-beat time the year's pace on
                    the steep steps around them . . .

Read more at jstheater.blogspot.com. 

Let us remember . . . and resolve never to let such happen again . . .

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Fruits of Undefinitions

     The poem "Undefined Terms" by poet-mathematician Katharine O'Brien (1901-1986) is a favorite of mine from long ago that I re-found recently here . . . for greatest enjoyment, read it aloud.

Undefined Terms     by Katharine O'Brien

A point is a point, a line is a line,
   a rose is a rose is a rose.
We thus undefine in the manner of Stein
   some terms in unrhyme and unprose.  

On these as foundation we lay definitions,
   the girders for walls and a roof.
We assume some conditions to fit requisitions
   and build us a logical proof.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Inauguration Day Poem

 Read by Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman,
an inspiring Biden-inauguration poem, "The Hill We Climb."

" . . . we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us,
                                               but to what stands before us . . ."

" . . . we will never again sow division . . ."

 

Monday, January 18, 2021

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr

       Today as a nation we remember and pay tribute to Rev.  Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) -- Baptist minster, Civil Rights leader -- a brave man who was assassinated for his fearless and humanitarian views.  

Here are a few of his words.
 
          We must accept
          finite disappointment
          but never lose
          infinite hope.  
                                               Freedom is never
                                               voluntarily given
                                               by the oppressor;
                                               it must be demanded
                                               by the oppressed.

This link leads to previous posts in this blog that celebrate this hero

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Bridges Math-Arts Conference 2021


Learn more here:  http://bridgesmathart.org/ 

Since 2009, interested contributors from mathematics and various arts -- poetry, music, theater, visual art . . . -- have gathered at an annual Bridges conference to celebrate and deepen math-art connections.  Due to Covid-19 the 2020 conference was virtual but so far, with hope, the 2021 conference is planned as an in-person conference in Finland.  Connecticut mathematician Sarah Glaz has been active in coordinating poetry events for the conference and here is a link to her announcement of the poetry program at Bridges 2021 -- including links to biographical sketches and poems by each participating poet.  My own poem therein honors mathematician Emmy Noether.

Here is a link to several postings in this blog that celebrate math women.


Monday, January 11, 2021

Number Personalities . . .

      Sometimes our experiences with objects or ideas leads us to assign them personalities -- a notion illustrated in the poem "Zero," by Sue Owen, a poem that lives on my shelf in the anthology Verse and Universe:  Poems about Science and Mathematics, edited by Kurt Brown (Milkweed Editions, 1998), and offered below.

Zero     by Sue Owen

       This is the story of zero,
       born to live a life
       of emptiness, only
       child of plus and minus.

       Its bones invisible
       so it could be seen through
       like an eye.
       With that vision, you could      

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Poetic Mathy Quotes

      In India, National Mathematics Day is celebrated each year on December 22 -- the birthday of mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920).  A couple of weeks ago, as this day was celebrated in India, a list of quotes about mathematics included the following:

Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas -- Albert Einstein

An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God -- Srinivasa Ramanujan

Without mathematics, there’s nothing you can do. Everything around you is mathematics. Everything around you is numbers — Shakuntala Devi

Some mathematician, I believe, has said that true pleasure lies not in the discovery of truth, but in the search for it -- Leo Tolstoy

Math is fun. It teaches you life and death information like when you’re cold, you should go to a corner since it’s 90 degrees there  — Anonymous

Previous mentions of Ramanujan in this blog can be found at this link.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Numbers and Faces, a math-poetry anthology

 Celebrating the NEW year with a collection of OLD favorites!

      Twenty years ago in 2001, supported by a grant from EXXONMOBIL, the Humanistic Mathematics Network published:

 NUMBERS AND FACES
A Collection of Poems with Mathematical Imagery

This collection of 24 poems (which I edited) is out of print but is available here (as a pdf).  A screenshot of the Table of Contents appears below: