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.