Monday, February 28, 2022

A Picture is worth 1000 words . . .

     Tomorrow, March 1, we begin Women's History Month.  Join in celebration of math people with the Mathematician Poster Project  -- a poster series featuring modern mathematical role models, created by a group of math graduate students and alumni. All files are freely downloadable below, for sharing either online or in print.  The project is new and growing -- in the first six available posters, math-women featured therein include Pamela Harris, Maryam Mirzakhani (1977-2017), and Julia Robinson (1919-1985).

     Each of the posters contains a few words of wisdom that are, in their way, poetic. Here are words from Pamela Harris:          Mathematical
                                                                    discovery brings me
                                                                    great joy, yet I am
                                                                    far more than the
                                                                    theorems I prove.  

These two links -- Mirzakhani and Robinson -- lead to other postings in this blog that have included these math-women.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Black boys at the blackboard doing math . . .

     Last Wednesday evening the WordWorks-sponsored poetry reading, "Poets vs the Pandemic," brought back to my attention Pennsylvania poet Le Hinton who read from his recent collection, Sing Silence, and also some newer work.  Here is Hinton's very special poem about kids learning math.

     Uses of Cotton (Eraser)      by Le Hinton
      When my brother tells the story,
      he forgets to mention the sock, black
      and worn. Mom darned it in three places;
      Dad used it as an eraser.
      I never leave out the part
      about his teaching
      us numbers. When to add.
      How to subtract.
      He set up a blackboard in the back-
      yard and wrote problems on it. Even invited
      the neighborhood kids. We earned a piece
      of candy for each one we got right.      

Monday, February 21, 2022

Reduce stress in math class -- write a poem

       Recently I have come across a website for the New England Literary Resources Center -- and one of the suggestions offered for managing stress in a math class is by writing poems; here is a link to a sample of stressed students' poems

     My favorite suggestion for inexperienced poets who take pen in hand is to choose a syllable-count structure to follow -- such as a syllable-square or a snowball or a Fib . . .. AND, from the website Pen and the Pad, here are some additional ideas to consider:   How to Write a Mathematical Poem (

And, as I worried, I wrote this Fib:

          Stop . . .
          Think . . .        
          What to say!
          I gather my thoughts
          and hope I can make a poem!

Thursday, February 17, 2022

February -- National Haiku-writing Month

     Whether to satisfy particular constraints when writing a poem is an idea that is very important to poets.  Some think that following strict constraints (such as building 14 lines of iambic pentameter to achieve a sonnet) is a process that leads the mind to discovery of new ideas.  Others think that constraints unnecessarily inhibit poetic ideas.

      Over time, the single-stanza poem called "Haiku" has been held to a variety of different standards.  Often the Haiku was expected to have three lines and seventeen syllables -- in a 5-7-5 pattern.  But this year as we now (in February) celebrate National Haiku Writing Month, relaxation of the syllable constraint is encouraged -- and the challenge of writing one-Haiku-per-day also is encouraged. 

Here, using syllable-counts, is a "no-seven" Haiku (offered on the seventeenth)!

               one two three four five
               six eight nine ten eleven
               twelve, thirteen, fourteen

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Celebrate with a MATHY Valentine

 Celebrate Valentine's Day with mathy verse!

Follow this link to see the variety of examples in previous posts.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Seven-line Fibs

 In a previous post (on 2/2/2222), I shared a link to dozens of Fibs;
today I offer a Fib variation -- this time with 7 lines.

     Daughter of a statistics professor, poet A. E. Stallings is no stranger to mathematics.  Here is a link to several dozen of her poems posted by the Poetry Foundation -- and this link leads to a posting of her poem "Sine Qua Non" in this blog.  Recently I discovered Stallings 2012 collection Olives (a sample is available here) and in it, "Four Fibs."   Deviating from the six-line poem that is often called a Fib, Stallings' poems have seven lines -- with syllable-counts of 1,1,2,3,5,8, and 13 syllables: here is a sample.

from   Four Fibs     by A. E. Stallings 

          1.       Did
                   or grapple
                   over the apple?
                   Eavesdropping Adam heard her say
                  To the snake-oil salesman she was not born yesterday. 

Here in the archives of the Cortland Review (where "Four Fibs" first appeared) is more of Stallings' work, including the other three Fibs.

Monday, February 7, 2022

The Poetry of Science

     Poet and teacher Sam Illingworth does much to celebrate the links between poetry and the sciences.  He is the founder of Consilience, an online journal that links poetry and artwork with science.  And he has a blog, The Poetry of Science, in which each week he presents a poem based on a new science idea that he has recently learned.  Here are the opening lines of a poem posted in August, 2021:

from     Artificial Weather    by Sam Illingworth

          Buoyant skies linger overhead,
          bulging at the seams
          with surging intent;
          capricious threats
          that fall indiscriminately
          against the statistical fortitude  
          of our modelled routines.     . . . read more here . . .

Here is a link to earlier mentions of Illingworth's work in this blog.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Words from Martin Luther King Jr.

     During this Black History Month or any month, Martin Luther King Jr is a man to remember and to honor.  His words have appeared in these earlier posts and, below, I offer a quote that is one of my mathy favorites:

             We must accept
             finite disappointment
             but never lose
             infinite hope.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

New issue -- Journal of Humanistic Mathematics

     The online, open-access Journal of Humanistic Mathematics (JHM) publishes new issues twice each year -- and the first issue for 2022 is now available and is rich with math-poetry offerings.  One of the fun items is a folder of Fibs, featuring contributions (with email contact information) from:

Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya, Gerd Asta Bones, Robin Chapman,
Marian Christie, Marion Deutsche Cohen, Stephen Day,
Carol Dorf, Susan Gerofsky, Sarah Glaz,
David Greenslade, Emily Grosholz, JoAnne Growney,
Kate Jones, Gizem Karaali, Lisa Lajeunesse,
Cindy Lawrence, Larry Lesser, Alice Major,
Kaz Maslanka, Dan May, Bjoern Muetzel,
Mike Naylor, Doug Norton, Eveline Pye,
Jacob Richardson, S. Brackett Robertson,
Stephanie Strickland, Susana Sulic,
Connie Tettenborn, Racheli Yovel.

And the current JHM issue contains five more poems -- thoughtful and thought-provoking: "What's So Great About Non-Orientable Manifolds?" by Michael McCormick, "Wrong Way" by Joseph Chaney, "The Solipsist’s First Paper" by Sabrina Sixta, "Heuristic or Stochastic?" by E Laura Golberg, and "So Long My Friend" by Bryan McNair.

In closing, I offer here a sample from the folder of Fibs, this one written by Gizem Karaali, one of the editors of JHM.

               Where does math come from?
                         Want to
                         Do some math,
                         Dive into the depths
                         Of your mind, climb heights of your soul.

Thank you, Gizem Karaali, for your work in humanizing mathematics!