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

Opposites Attract

     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: 

the mirror
oblivion holds
wearing the mask
of infinity


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. 

   When                                                   When
   your                                                      your
   father                                                   mother
   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.