I count --
and count on --
mathy poems shared
here by countless poets. THANK YOU!
Friday, December 31, 2021
Year-end Counting -- with Gratitude
Monday, December 27, 2021
Amid uncertainties -- compose a Fib
How many Corona-virus cases will the new year bring?
What to say . . .
I gather my thoughts
and hope I can make a poem.
Monday, December 20, 2021
Christmas is coming . . .
This morning I did a blog search to see which of my previous posts included the word "Christmas" -- and this link leads to the results. And, for me as for many, a very familiar favorite (also posted back in December 2015) -- linking Christmas and numbers -- is this:
|This Wikipedia link offers some history of this song.|
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Recently I came across the website onesentencepoems.com and, enjoying the items' brevity, I did some browsing -- and term-searching -- looking for mathy poems. Here are two samples by teacher and poet Jeffrey Park -- originally from Baltimore, now a teacher in Germany.
She always sleeps with protractor and compass
on the bedside table, never knowing when
a sudden fit of geometry will strike in the night.
Numbers pelt down from an infinite sky, neither irrational nor imaginary,
the angular ones, 4s and 7s, doing maximum damage.
Monday, December 13, 2021
Mathematician with the Soul of a Poet
One of my long-time math-poetry connections has been with math-teacher-artist-writer Sandra DeLozier Coleman (This link leads to her prior appearances in this blog.) Coleman has had a long-term interest in the Russian mathematician-and-poet Sofia Kovalevskaya (1850-1891) and has recently published Mathematician with the Soul of a Poet -- Poems and Plays of Sofia Kovalevskaya (Bohannon Hall Press, 2021, available here from amazon.com); this volume that contains Coleman's translations from Russian along with background and thoughtful commentary. The opening section of the book begins with these words from Kovalevskaya:
I understand that you are surprised I can work at the same time
in both literature and mathematics. Many who have not had the
chance to learn more about mathematics confuse it with arithmetic
and consider it to be a dry and arid science. In truth, however,
this science requires the greatest imagination, and one of the most
respected mathematicians of our century has very rightly said
that it is not possible to be a great mathematician without having
the soul of a poet. S V. Kovalevskaya
Thank you, Sandy Coleman, for sharing Kovalevskaya's words with us!
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
STEM Writing Contests -- reminders . . .
WRITING deepens UNDERSTANDING!
For the reason above -- and for the possibility of winning recognition and prizes -- please consider the following contests.
The NYTimes has announced its 3rd annual STEM Writing Contest -- information is found here and 500-word submissions are invited during the period Feb 2-March 9, 2022.To increase awareness of women’s ongoing contributions to mathematics, the Association for Women in Mathematics and Math for America are cosponsoring an essay contest for biographies based on interviews of math-women working in or retired from mathematical careers. The contest is open to students in Grades 6–8, Grades 9–12, and Undergraduate. For more information, please visit the contest webpage or contact the organizer, Dr. Johanna Franklin, at johanna.n.franklin (at) hofstra.edu. The submission deadline is February 1, 2022.
Monday, December 6, 2021
Stories of Quadrilaterals
Sometimes I have time to browse my shelves and rediscover old favorites. Several of this blog's much-read poems have come from Scottish author Brian McCabe (Find blog search results at this link) -- and below I offer the first part of McCabe's two-part poem ("Two Quadrilaterals") entitled "The Restless Square."
Two Quadrilaterals by Brian McCabe
Part 1. The Restless Square
There was a square who yearned
to become something else.
It stretched its legs to mimic
an elegant rectangle but
lost its balance, leaned over
in a perilous parallelogram.
Thursday, December 2, 2021
Divided -- for facial recognition
Recently-retired Virginia dentist Eric Forsbergh sent me a mathy poem about the fascinating -- and controversial -- process of facial recognition. Enjoy!
Data-driven approach divided the face into 63 segments.
Nature Genetics, Jan. 2021
This, you can’t refute:
How data banks embed us.
Graphics now drag anyone
into granularity. As if
the features of a wave drew back
to reveal a pebble beach.
Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Art / Poem / Numbers (posted 7/14/13, then lost)
Recently I discovered a typo in my posting on July 14, 2013 of "Poem 25" by Kurt Schwitters. My attempt to fix my typo led to accidental deletion of that post and so, I offer again this diagram-poem. The poem -- IS THIS REALLY A POEM? -- appears in Numerals: 1924 - 1977 -- gathered by Yale Professor of Art History Rainer Crone (1942-2016), published 1978 by the Yale University Art Gallery.
Poem 25 (elementary) by Kurt Schwitters, 1923
Monday, November 29, 2021
Sometimes ONE is also TWO
A long-time supporter of this blog and of math-poetry connections is Gregory Coxson, Research Engineer at the US Naval Academy-- and he has recently shared with me the following poem, a translation of work by German writer and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832); publication and translation details may be found online here. Coxson was drawn back to his memories of this math-linked poem with the arrival of November and at his campus the bright-yellow leaves of the ginkgo trees.
Ginkgo Biloba translation of work by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
In my garden’s care and favour
From the East this tree’s leaf shows
Secret sense for us to savour
And uplifts the one who knows.
Is it but one being single
Which as same itself divides?
Are there two which choose to mingle
So that each as one now hides?
As the answer to such question
I have found a sense that’s true:
Is it not my song’s suggestion
That I’m one and also two?
More about Goethe's poem can be found here at WisdomPortal.com.
Monday, November 22, 2021
The term "Equation Poetry" is the title of an article by Radoslav Rochallyi -- and posted on 11/9/ 2021 here in the MATH VALUES blog. Rochallyi is a poet, essayist, and interdisciplinary artist living in Prague, Czech Republic and author of eight books of poetry. For Rochallyi, "mathematical" poetry is not poetry about mathematics but poetry whose form is determined by a mathematical rule.
For example, he uses the formula for the area of a circle -- a = π r² -- to form this example of Equation poetry:And, from the binomial formula,
Thursday, November 18, 2021
MANIFOLD: Poetry Inspired by Mathematics
One of my recent pleasant pastimes has been spending time with MANIFOLD: Poetry of Mathematics by E R Lutken. This poet's experiences prepare her well for merging different points of view -- a Southerner from a family that loved learning, Lutken became a family physician who spent years on the Navajo Nation AND then became a teacher of science and mathematics. Read more about Lutken and MANIFOLD here.
The "luc bat" is a Vietnamese poetic form that means "six-eight" --
Lutken's poem consists of alternating lines of six and eight syllables.
Ars Parabola by E R Lutken
but graph it and the plot
might trace that perfect spot for one
whose vertex taps the sun:
abscissa makes a run from rhyme
to none and metric time
devolves from frozen symmetry.
Equal distance of free
line and focal point defines sure
sense, logic’s stare obscured
as symbols play in pure sound’s bright
flare. White-hot words ignite
a sharp savor, the bite, the risk,
an ordinate of bliss.
"Ars Parabola" is from MANIFOLD, by E R Lutken, 3: A Taos Press, 2021, presented here with permission of 3: A Taos Press and the poet. The poem first appeared in Welter Literary Journal.
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Aelindromes -- and Pi
On Twitter, I have seen frequent posts by UK-based writer Anthony Etherin -- and, encouraged by mathy poet Marian Christie, I have found it interesting to explore his work. Etherin focuses on constrained, formal, visual, and experimental poetry -- he tweets @Anthony_Etherin; he manages Penteract Press. AND Etherin has invented a new type of writing-constraint called the aelindrome -- a bit like the palindrome ( such as top spot or never odd or even ) except that the reversals involve more than one letter. Here is a simple example of an aelindrome:
melody, a bloody elm which can be divided into m el ody ablo ody el m
Moonless Moonlight by Anthony Etherin
Low, fatal nights! Late, moonless.... Tense, we glitch.
We swim bled sky, along the ashy glow.
Shy glow along the ambled sky, we switch.
We glisten -- see slate moonlight's natal flow.
Go here to learn more of Anthony Etherin and his work.
Wednesday, November 10, 2021
After loss we have nothing--which is something ...
A poet whose work I much admire is A. E. Stallings -- born in the US, in Georgia, but now living in Greece. This poem -- a sonnet -- deals with the paradox that nothing is something -- as with the integer zero and with the absence of a loved one. The poem was written for her father who taught statistics at Georgia State University.
Sine Qua Non by A. E. Stallings
Your absence, father, is nothing. It is naught—
The factor by which nothing will multiply,
The gap of a dropped stitch, the needle's eye
Weeping its black thread. It is the spot
Blindly spreading behind the looking glass.
It is the startled silences that come
When the refrigerator stops its hum,
And crickets pause to let the winter pass.
Your absence, father, is nothing—for it is
Omega's long last O, memory's elision,
The fraction of impossible division,
The element I move through, emptiness,
The void stars hang in, the interstice of lace,
The zero that still holds the sum in place.
"Sine Qua Non" is found in Stallings' collection Hapax (Northwestern University Press, 2006) and also in the anthology Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics (AK Peters/CRC Press, 2008).
A wonderful collection of Stallings' poems is available at the PoetryFoundation website -- and more about this poet and her work is may be found here at her at Stallings' website.
Monday, November 8, 2021
A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems
Celebrate Raymond Queneau (1903-1976).
In a recent posting, mathy blogger Ben Orlin noted (here in Math with Bad Drawings) that 2021 is the 60th anniversary of an amazing poetry collection, One Hundred Thousand Billion Poems, by Raymond Queneau. The collection consist of 14 sonnets, with each line of each sonnet on a separate strip of paper -- allowing formation of a poem using any of the 14 first lines, any of the 14 second lines, and so on. Here is an link to a earlier blog posting that introduces Queneau's collection and includes and interactive way to create a sonnet from the collection.
Here is a link to other postings from this blog that include Queneau.
Wednesday, November 3, 2021
Enjoy the Possibilities in a Multiple-Choice Poem
Just as a test-taker mulls over which answer is correct, a poet
mulls over word choices and what should come next. South Dakota mathematician-poet Daniel May (professor at Black Hills State
University) has broadly captured these decision choices in a poetry-form
called a Digraph Poem or a Multiple Choice Poem. I first learned of this idea several
years ago at a Bridges Math-Art
Conference at Waterloo, Canada when May and a colleague, Courtney
Huse Wika, presented a paper entitled "The Poetics of a Cyclic
Directed Graph" (available online here in the Bridges Archives). In this paper is a poetry-creation by Huse Wika that involves various choices and orders of stanzas.
This mixing of stanzas came to my attention again via a paper by May entitled "In the beginning all is null" which appeared in Journal of Mathematics and the Arts, Volume 14, Issue 1-2 (2020) as one of a group of "artist's statements." In this latter paper, May thoughtfully describes his process of composing his poem -- he composed eight eight-line stanzas -- and the reader was to read a stanza, choose and read another stanza, and so on with a third. In all, eight poems -- each sharing stanzas with others.
Recently a new online multidisciplinary journal, Poetrishy, has been born -- and it's first issue features another Multiple-Choice/Digraph poem by Dan May entitled "What the Body Does Next" --and available here. Although you will need to follow the link I've offered to actually read the poem, I offer below a small screen-shot -- so that you can get a sense of its structure.
Issue 1 of Poetrishy also contains work by these mathy poets -- Larry Lesser, Marian Christie, and Marion Deutsche Cohen. And several more authors whose work is fun to explore.
Monday, November 1, 2021
Interview a Math Woman -- then Write and Win . . .
Amalie "Emmy" Noether (1885-1932) is one of the outstanding mathematicians of all-time -- and yet, during her lifetime she got very little of the recognition that she deserved.
Consider these lines:
Today history books proclaim that Noether
is the greatest mathematician
her sex has produced. They say she was good --
for a woman. a stanza from my poem "My Dance is Mathematics"
In the past, people both inside and outside of mathematics have discriminated against women and minorities -- but the Association for Women in Mathematics -- AWM -- works to change that. One of their activities to increase awareness of math-woman and their achievements is an annual essay contest.
Here is this year's announcement:
To increase awareness of women’s ongoing contributions to mathematics, the Association for Women in Mathematics and Math for America are cosponsoring an essay contest for biographies based on interviews of women working in or retired from mathematical careers. The contest is open to students in Grades 6–8, Grades 9–12, and Undergraduate. For more information, contact the organizer, Dr. Johanna Franklin, at firstname.lastname@example.org or see the contest webpage at
https://awm-math.org/awards/student-essay-contest/. The deadline is February 1, 2022.
Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good. from Shakespeare's Macbeth
Shakespeare's lines above are part of a collection of Halloween Poems offered at this link by the Poetry Foundation -- not a mathy group of poems but fun to read at this time of year. Enjoy!
Monday, October 25, 2021
Visual Mathematical Poetry
A wonderful place to visit -- and to stay for a while -- is the blog maintained by Kazmier Maslanka, Mathematical Poetry, found here at this link. Maslanka's poetry is visual -- and here is a lovely sample that features the golden ratio:
|"Golden Fear" by Kaz Maslanka|
This link leads to Maslanka's blog and this link leads to information about "Rule 42, Stretched Language" -- an upcoming show at California's Bonita Museum that features his work.
Maslanka has been noted numerous times in this blog --
here is a blog link to another image from his mathematical-poetry-art.
This link leads to a thoughtful interview with Maslanka.
Wednesday, October 20, 2021
Inspired by Ten
Here is an intriguing poem by Massachusetts poet Ellen Wehle that focuses on ten; it is one of the works collected in Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics (AK Peters/CRC Press, 2008).
The Song of 10 by Ellen Wehle
From the Romans' decem our decibels and decimal system, O tenfold
the sorrows of Israel, Decameron tales mean to be told over ten nights
in December, solstice month frozen in moondrifts of snow. Our fingers
and toes. Kingly ten-pointed stags reigning over Europe's greenwoods,
for miners a measure in tons of coal or type of tallow candle weighted
ten per pound, the legion poor mending by by its light. What else is there
to say? Higher than nine. A number whose power is mighty to multiply,
comprising one and nil, wand and egg, gold spindle and heavenly wheel
of goddess Fate who turns time and tides; what our parents say summer
evenings, hearing our voices dart and flicker in neighboring yards before
we dance from them into darkness and love's rule ends--I'll count to ten.
Monday, October 18, 2021
Maths and Poetry: Beauty is the Link
One of the American Mathematical Society's pre-Covid Programs for students was a MATH POETRY Contest -- and details and resources are listed at this link. An article offered there has the title "Maths and Poetry: Beauty is the Link" -- an article by Peter Lynch, (emeritus professor at University College of Dublin's School of Mathematics & Statistics) published in 2019 in The Irish Times and available at this link. Lynch also has a blog, That'sMaths. The Irish Times article is available in his blog and he has a second posting about poetry entitled "Patterns in Poetry, Music, and Morse Code" -- it's available here.
And today I also am thinking back to "Number Theory" by mathematician-poet Olga Taussky-Todd (1906-1995); I first posted it at this link in November of 2014; here are several of its lines.
Number theory is like poetry
they are both of the same kind
they start a fire in your mind.
Number theory is not just clever and smart
it has a beauty that fills your heart.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021
A(nother) blog that celebrates Math-and-Poetry
Recently I have come to know another strong advocate of math-poetry connections. Marian Christie (read about her here) has had longtime interest in both mathematics and poetry and her blog -- available at https://marianchristiepoetry.net/ -- explores topics that include "Poetry and Fractals," "Poetry and Number Sequences," "Poetry and Permutations," . . . reflection symmetry and square poems and Fibonacci poems . . .. and lots more. Allow yourself time to explore when you visit https://marianchristiepoetry.net/.
When I am working with a group of students are nervous about their ability to write a poem, I often start by asking them to write a Fib, because it starts with single syllables, In her posting about Fibonacci poems, Christie offers this simple example of how the Fib structure can lead you to a poem.
in crochet, music,
poetry and mathematics.
If you are new to Fibs, try this CHALLENGE: using the same first two lines as Christie used above, create a Fibonacci poem. And then another ... and another.
Monday, October 11, 2021
Global Math Week -- in 2021, October 10-16
The week of October 10-16, 2021 has been proclaimed as GLOBAL MATH WEEK 2021. At this link is offered a list of math-celebration activities -- and these include creation of a poster which begins:
MATH IS . . .
In response to this I recall a quote from physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955):
"Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas."
More of my views about the similarities
between math and poetry are available here.
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
STEM Writing Contest for ages 11-19 (NYTimes)
A recent item from The Learning Network in the New York Times announces their 3rd annual STEM Writing Contest -- with submission dates, Feb. 2 - March 9, 2022. The Times states:
We invite students to choose an issue or question in science, technology, engineering, math or health, then write an engaging 500-word explanation.
Students aged 11 to 19 anywhere in the world attending middle or high school can participate. Here is a link to contest submission information.
And, perhaps some engaging explanations will include a few words of poetry!
Monday, October 4, 2021
Presenting Gauss in Verse
German mathematician Karl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855) is one of history's most prolific and influential mathematicians -- and he is interestingly described in the following acrostic poem.
K arl Friedrich Gauss by Stuart J, Silverman
A puzzle, that his brash genius often shrank,
R eluctant to publish? Hardly. The fact is he
L ingered, perfecting this or that theory
F orged in the heat of his private think tank.
R eworked his proofs until some thought they stank.
I nside and out, of misplaced purity.
E ntered the ages, one of a company
D ecidedly small -- not its only crank.
R ancor and jealousy, admittedly touched him,
I mpelled the pettish note to Bolyai,
C ruelly sent, perhaps on a whim,
H ead and heart each going its separate way.
G ranted the meanness, vanity, display,
A ll such human failings, what he worked would change
U nder his hand to the gold of a new day.
S ettled into its fame, his thought would range
S ecurely through the numinous and strange.
This poem by Silverman is on my shelf in the collection Against Infinity: An Anthology of Contemporary Mathematical Poetry, edited by Ernest Robson and Jet Wimp (Primary Press, 1979). This collection is out of print but copies may be located here at bookfinder.com.
What are the COSTS of GENIUS?
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Opposites -- in Life as in Mathematics
Recently on NPR I heard an engaging interview with poet Kevin Young about his new collection Stones -- about memory and loss, and connection to the past -- and my interest led me to search online for more of his work. At the Poetry Foundation website I found twenty of Young's poems, including this one which considers -- as mathematics also does -- pairs of opposites.
Negative by Kevin Young
Wake to find everything black
what was white, all the vice
versa—white maids on TV, black
sitcoms that star white dwarfs
cute as pearl buttons. Black Presidents,
Black Houses. White horse
candidates. All bleach burns
clothes black. Drive roads
white as you are, white songs
Monday, September 27, 2021
Geometry of a Neighborhood
As we walk around, our views of our surroundings change; lines that look parallel from one view appear to be converging from another . . . and so on. The following poem by Massachusetts poet Martha Collins reflects on such view-changes:
House, Tree, Sky by Martha Collins
If, when the pond is still
and nothing is moved
and the light is right.
you consider the angles
and make the proper approach,
you come to a bend
where a small white house
against a deep sky meets
the same white house against
the blue water:
stair rests on stair,
door opens on door,
tree grows out of tree.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
It all starts with counting . . .
Sometimes our focus on what is important -- in life, in love . . . as in mathematics -- starts with counting. This process is artfully expressed below in "Tally" by Romanian poet Lucian Blaga (1922-1985).
Tally by Lucien Blaga
I tally in the ancient way.
I count like the shepherd
how many white. how many black
--days, all year round.
I count the steps, of the beautiful one,
to the threshold of the door.
I count how many startsthere are
in the nest of the Mother Hen.
However many, the lot--I count,
smoke and illusions,
the whole day--count, count
roads and missed ways.
I count the stones on which
she crosses the ford, that beauty
and all the sins for which
hell will surely burn me.
Blaga's poem was translated from the Romanian by Brenda Walker and Stelian Apostolescu and is included in the anthology, Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics (AKPeters/CRC Press, 2008), edited by Sarah Glaz and JoAnne Growney.
Monday, September 20, 2021
More of Yeats and Geometry
A blog-posting I made last week spoke of the use by poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) of geometry in his poetry. Here is another vivid example:
The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight; somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Intersecting lines of math, the arts, and justice
A multimedia interdisciplinary project linking mathematics, the arts, and language -- and entitled Rhythm of Structure -- was begun in 2003 by versatile mathematical artist and writer, John Sims. I first learned of the project in 2010 when I was one of a group of writers invited to a weekend event at the Bowery Poetry Club at which Sims was then resident poet. A catalog of the art and poetry gathered by Sims during that year is entitled Rhythm of Structure: Mathematics, Art and Poetic Reflection, Bowery and Beyond and is available at this link.
Before moving on to a poem I am compelled to mention a recent instance of racial injustice; from May, 2021 this headline:
Political artist John Sims detained, handcuffed by S.C. police in his gallery apartment
found at this Yahoo site. Sims, a black man and artist-in-residence at the Center for Contemporary art in Columbia, South Carolina, was arrested as an "intruder" as he entered his own apartment and gallery. PLEASE, let us work together to end racially biased behavior!
* * *
Monday, September 13, 2021
Yeats and Geometry
Spelman College Professor Emeritus Colm Mulcahy is a mathematician and scholar whose talents and interests reach far and wide. An email from him alerted me to a website exploring the work of his fellow Irishman, poet William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). In particular Mulcahy alerted me to links between Yeats' poetry and Geometry.
And these new connections to Yeats led me to think back to college days, to my reading of Yeats in a course in "Modern Poetry" -- and to remember the way that my thoughts were swept into the air by "The Wild Swans at Coole." I offer below its opening stanzas, followed by a link to the rest of the poem.
The Wild Swans at Coole by William Butler Yeats
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.
The nineteenth autumn has come upon me
Since I first made my count;
I saw, before I had well finished,
All suddenly mount
And scatter wheeling in great broken rings
Upon their clamorous wings.
. . . Yeats' complete poem is available here at PoetryFoundation.org.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Seeing Mathematics Everywhere
Ohio poet Cathryn Essinger has a twin brother who is a mathematician -- and links to mathematics sometimes appear in her poetry. Here are the opening lines of a poem I especially enjoy -- the complete poem appeared in Poetry Magazine in 2002 and is available online here.
My Dog Practices Geometry by Cathryn Essinger
I do not understand the poets who tell me
that I should not personify. Every morning
the willow auditions for a new role
outside my bedroom window—today she is
Clytemnestra; yesterday a Southern Belle,
lost in her own melodrama, sinking on her skirts.
Nor do I like the mathematicians who tell me
I cannot say, "The zinnias are counting on their
fingers," or "The dog is practicing her geometry,"
even though every day I watch her using
the yard's big maple as the apex of a triangle
from which she bisects the circumference
. . . To continue reading, follow this link.
Monday, September 6, 2021
The math of everyday life . . .
Back in the 90's when I participated in several poetry workshops at Pennsylvania's Bucknell University, one of my fellow-students was Declan Synott and here -- found on Facebook -- is one of his poems, a mathy poem.
Plowing by Declan Synott
In Brush Valley, near Rebersburg,
a four-mule team pulls the furrow,
and a 15 year old Amish boy stands atop the plow.
He is part of the leather harness,
leads to each animal.
It’s a controlled chore. Methodical and mathematical.
If you were to do the math, you’d know
that it will take 38 passes,
east to west, west to east to till this pasture.
The job requires all of the morning
and a good part of the afternoon.
He swings at a horsefly’s bite, aligns his shoulders
and keeps the animals moving.
The soil breaks fresh, a dark rich brown,
a dust plume in his wake.
Tuesday, August 31, 2021
There is more than one way to die . . .
In the 1970's I had access to birth control and was fortunate to be able to be involved with adoption of children rather than abortion. And I am saddened when a child is born into a world that has no plan of care for her or him. Recent attempts to forbid abortion give me grave concerns -- concerns shared long ago in poems, using syllable-count patterns to control my ranting. Here is one of these poems (also posted earlier in this blog).
Monday, August 30, 2021
Mathematics and Poetry -- Arts of the Heart
On the opening pages of a Springer Reference, Handbook of the Mathematics of the Arts and Sciences, we find a list of 107 fascinating titles -- including two that link mathematics and poetry:
"Mathematics and Poetry -- Arts of the Heart" by Gizem Karaali and Lawrence M. Lesser
"Poems Structured by Mathematics" by Daniel May
Even for those of us who lack access to the Springer volume, the abstracts found at the links above offer lots of valuable references -- and contact information for the authors.
AND, if you are on Twitter, you can enjoy palindromes and other constrained verse by Anthony Etherin ( @Anthony_Etherin ) -- an author whose latest book has the title SLATE PETALS.
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Using "mathematics" in a poem
One of my daily emails is poem-a-day from poets.org -- and yesterday's poem surprised me with the word "mathematics" appearing 4 times in its 28 lines. Here are several lines:
from Hunter heart a lonely is the by Kyle Dacuyan
child in a novel that has neither person nor a substance
music mathematics is a dream makes me see myself
more loving when I listen makes my heart go
the hunter and a lonely Remembering is a mathematics
and the body in its illnesses the stamina has symphonic
calculus of living in a sickness I can listen now
. . .
Dacuyan's complete poem -- for reading aloud and contemplation -- is available here.
Monday, August 23, 2021
Poems by visual poet Karl Kempton are always fascinating and often mathy. Here, from Kempton's collection, poems about something and nothing (Paper Press, 2015) is one of my favorites:
wearing the mask
Here is a link to Kempton's collection 3-CUBED: MATHEMATICAL POEMS 1975-2003.
And here is a link to previous presentations of Kempton's work in this blog.
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
Shaping Poems with Numbers
Numerical patterns can help guide our minds and fingers to create poems -- and one of the patterns I like is the Fibonacci numbers -- a number sequence for which the first non-zero numbers are both 1, and each succeeding number is the sum of the two preceding numbers.
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, . . .
Formation of a six-line poem using the first 6 of these numbers as syllable-counts, gives a tiny poem that has been named a Fib.
For me, using these Fibonacci numbers -- starting small and growing -- as syllable counts offers a nice structure for developing my thoughts around a particular topic. I like it for myself (a couple examples below) and I suggest to my students when I am asking them to share their math-related viewpoints.
is mathy is mathy
what are the chances what are the chances
that interest is passed to you? that interest is passed to you?
These days I celebrate the fact that I have granddaughters who like math!
Monday, August 16, 2021
BRIDGES -- connecting math and poetry
The BRIDGES Math-Arts organization held its 2021 conference (early in August) online -- and, although many of the meetings were available only to registrants, archives of papers are available at this link to all who are interested.
BRIDGES papers and events that link poetry and mathematics have been thoughtfully publicized by University of Connecticut emeritus professor Sarah Glaz who has created a webpage "Mathematical Poetry at Bridges" for that purpose. On that webpage are links to pages for individual Bridges conferences as far back as 2010 -- with poetry involvement in the conferences increasing in the later years. Here is a link to "Mathematical Poetry at Bridges 2021" -- a page with links to sample poems from more than 30 poets and also video readings of numerous poems. VISIT the site and savor the poems.
Below I offer one of the poems from the Bridges 2021 site. Playing with various ideas of "infinity" poet and math teacher Amy Uyematsu has created "This Thing Called Infinity" -- and she given me permission to offer it here.
This Thing Called Infinity by Amy Uyematsu
Friday, August 13, 2021
JHM -- a rich source of mathy poems
Every six months the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics offers a new online issue and includes a generous offering of mathy poems. Here is a link to the current issue (Vol, 11, No, 2, July 2021) and I offer --after a sample, which features a type of algebra problem -- the titles, authors, and links to JHM mathy poems.
Train Algebra by Mary Soon Lee
Do not use a calculator. Show your work.
Haruki leaves Chicago Union Station at 10:42 pm
on a train traveling at 60 miles per hour.
At 10:33 pm, Haruki boards the train.
He’s abandoned his job,
his collection of cactuses;
has only his cell phone, his wallet,
and a dog-eared paperback.
He walks through two carriages
before finding an open seat,
apologizes as he sits down
beside a woman his mother’s age.
The woman glares at him.
Monday, August 9, 2021
Once upon a time, 350 was our goal
Back in 2007, 350 parts per million was the "safe upper limit" for CO2 in our atmosphere -- a figure presented by NASA scientist Jim Hansen in December 2007 and widely agreed upon. From that number the website 350.org was born. On October 24, 2009, 350 Poems celebrated an international day of climate action with a posting, from poets all around the world, of 350 poems of 3.5 lines each -- each responding to concern for man-made climate change. My own entry (#265 here in the listing) I offer below.
It's sad news that recent data (more than 400 ppm of CO2 in our atmosphere) verifies our greedy disregard of this important warning. What can we do?
The Spider (265/350) by JoAnne Growney
Spinner of intricate, twenty-inch silk food snares.
Twenty inches — not fifty or two hundred.
She knows the limits to her senses. Humans
keep building bigger webs.
This 3.5 line poem was first posted almost ten years ago (here at this link).
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
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
When you’re trying to sleep,
When there’s something to share,
When you’re folding a sheet,
When a ball
Bounces off of a wall,
When you cook
From a recipe book,
When you know
How much money you owe,
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 . . .
BROWSE and ENJOY!
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.
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.