Thursday, April 27, 2023

Poets for Science -- Poetry Exhibit

     In 2017 poet Jane Hirschfeld curated an exhibit entitled "Poets for Science".  It was featured in Washington, DC on Earth Day, April 22, 2017, when demonstrators around the world participated in a March for Science, a call to support and safeguard the scientific community.  Since 2017 the exhibit has been hosted by various locations.  (More information at this link.)

     The Poets for Science Exhibition features a Special Collection of human-sized poems banners, with each poem in the collection specifically chosen by Hirshfeld to demonstrate the connection between poetry and a particular area of science, from the Hubble Telescope and MRI machines to childhood cognitive development, biology, ecology, and natural history.  

     Connection between poetry and mathematics is exhibited by the poem "Pi" by Nobel-prize-winning poet Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012)  (translated from Polish by Clare Cavanaugh and Stanislaw Baranczak (1946-2014)).  I offer a portion of the poem below (followed by a link to the complete poem).

Pi     by Wislawa Szymborska  (translated by Barańczak and Cavanagh)

Monday, April 24, 2023

Where Will the Parallels Meet?

      One of my favorite poets -- with a varied selection of mathy poems -- is the Czech poet Miroslav Holub (1923-28), an immunologist as well as a poet and one who also wrote about the horrors of World War II.

     Here is one of his poems that I gathered in this 2001 collection Numbers and Faces:  A Collection of Poems with Mathematical Imagery, entitled "The Parallel Syndrome."

The Parallel Syndrome   by Miroslav Holub  (translated by Ewald Osers)

          Two parallels
          always meet
          when we draw them by our own hand.

          The question is only
          whether in front of us
          or behind us.

          Whether that train in the distance
          is coming
          or going.

The collection named above, in which Holub's poem appears, is available here.
This link leads to results of a blog search for previously posted poems by Holub..

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Once upon a Prime . . .

      British Mathematician Sarah B. Hart is receiving wide-spread publicity and praise in recent days for the publication of her book Once Upon a Prime:  The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature (Flatiron Books:  New York, 2023).  (Here is a link to an enthusiastic review in The New York Times by Jordan Ellenberg.)   

     My copy of Hart's book arrived last week and I have been enjoying not only the information but the point of view.  Hart's opening chapter is "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe:  The Patterns of Poetry" and, for those of you who don't have the book yet, an excerpt from opening pages of the chapter is included here in an article in Literary Hub.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Running . . . Again . . .

      Today one of my friends from graduate-school days in Oklahoma is running in the Boston Marathon and, while following her progress on my I-phone, I have been thinking about the role of running in my own life; for me, running has been a way of releasing tension -- some exercise and good breathing.   Years ago Theodore Roethke's villanelle "The Waking" (available here) inspired me to write "Running" -- and I offer it below:

    Running      Response (by JoAnne Growney) to “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke 

       My sleep is brief.  I rise to run again,
       to flee the doubts that catch me when I'm still.
       I live by going faster than I can.

       I feel by doing.  What's to understand?
       I eat and drink and never have my fill.
       My sleep is brief.  I rise to run again.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Seeing the World through a dual prism . . .

     Based in Melbourne, Australia, Tom Petsinis is a mathematics adviser at Deakin University and is author of nine poetry collections as well as theatrical works and books of fiction.  He also is involved in the worldwide BRIDGES organization --which meets annually to investigate and celebrate connections between mathematics and the arts.  This year's BRIDGES conference will be held July 27-31 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and next year's conference is planned for August 1-5, 2024 at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.

     Below is "Zero" -- a mathy poem by Petsinis which is also offered as a sample at this BRIDGES link (a link that advertises and celebrates those poets participating in the 2022 conference).

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

April -- Mathematics & Statistics Awareness Month

      Found at the website of the American Statistical Association this fine page of resources for Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month for students and teachers.  

This photos shows resource topics available at the link given above.

     One of my own recent activities has been to revisit an old book, Poetry and Mathematics by Scott Buchanan (J. B. Lippincott, 1962), originally published in 1929.   Buchanan (1895-1968) was a philosopher who had majored in mathematics as an undergraduate; his career involved both teaching and consulting -- and work at a political think tank.  Here are some of his words:

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Math in Song Lyrics -- Joni Mitchell

       One of the fun surprises I have had recently is to discover mathematics in the lyrics of a once-popular song -- in "Ray's Dad's Cadillac" by musical legend Joni Mitchell, recent recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

     Joni Mitchell -- who has recently come back to the stage after serious illness -- has surmounted barriers to female achievement and recognition as have many math-women.  She has indeed "looked at life from both sides now" . . .   Below I offer two mathy stanzas from her song -- "Ray's Dad's Cadillac."    (The complete lyrics are available at this link).

from   Ray's Dad's Cadillac     by Joni Mitchell     

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Mental Math -- and links to Poetic Craft

     From Yellow Springs News (in Antioch, Ohio), an interesting mathy-poetic story by writer Ed Davis  -- entitled "Emergent Verse | A Poetry Workshop" -- in which is uses "Mental Math" by poet Maggie Dean and discusses the process of revising by moving toward brevity.   The process shown is one that often happens as I write a poem -- it begins with a wordy ramble and over time I am able to improve my word choices and say as much or more with fewer words.

Here's the second section of Dean's poem followed by Davis's revision -- a move toward conciseness  (nearly always a goal in mathematics).