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)

     The admirable number pi:
     three point one four one
     All the following digits are also initial,
     five nine two because it never ends.
     It can’t be comprehended six five three five at a glance,
     eight nine by calculation,
     seven nine or imagination,
     not even three two three eight by wit, that is, by comparison
     four six to anything else
     two six four three in the world.
     The longest snake on earth call it quits at about forty feet.
     Likewise, snakes of myth and legend, though they may
                hold out a bit longer.
     The pageant of digits comprising the number pi
     doesn’t stop at the page’s edge.
        . . .   (Szymborska's complete poem (with 19 more lines) is available at this link.)

     Wislawa Szymborska's attention to mathematics in her poems has been a topic considered in several previous postings in this blog.  At this link are the results of a blog SEARCH using "Szymborska".

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