Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Halloween Poems

            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 -- 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

     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. 
               with patterns
               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  

What are the COSTS of GENIUS?