Monday, June 26, 2023


     In several previous postings (collected at this link) this blog has considered the poetry form called a sestina:    a sestina has 39 lines and its form depends on 6 words -- arrangements of which are the end-words of 6 6-line stanzas; these same words also appear, 2 per line, in the final 3-line stanza.

     The American poet Marie Ponsot (1921-2019) invented the tritina, which she described as the square root of the sestina.   the tritina is a ten-line poem and, instead of six repeated words, you choose three, which appear at the end of each line in the following sequence: 123, 312, 231; there is a final line, which acts as the envoi -- and includes all three words in the order they appeared in the first stanza.  Poinsot has said -- and I agree -- poetic forms like the tritina are "instruments of discovery . . . they pull things out of you."  Read more here in an article by poet Timar Yoseloff.)

Monday, June 19, 2023

BRIDGES Math-Poetry in Halifax -- July 27-31, 2023

     BRIDGES, an annual conference that celebrates connections between mathematics and the arts, will be held this year in Halifax Nova Scotia, July 27-31.  (Conference information available at this link.)  A poetry reading is one of the special event at BRIDGES and Sarah Glaz, retired math professor and poet, is one of the chief organizers of the event.  Here at her University of Connecticut website, Glaz has posted information about the July 30 reading along with bios and sample poems from each of the poets.   For poets not part of this early registration, an Open Mic will be available (if interested, contact Glaz -- contact information is available here at her website.)

Here is a CENTO I have composed using a line of poetry from each of the sample poems (found online at this link) by the 2023 BRIDGES poets:

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

HELLO, Numbers

     As a child, I learned to love numbers via counting rhymes (of which many are found at this Lit2Go website);  -- often I reinforced my number-memory by reciting  rhyming verses such as "One, two, buckle my shoe" and "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" and enjoying the trick in "Going to St. Ives."  University of Arkansas mathematician Edmund Harriss (whom I met a bunch of years ago at a conference in Banff) and co-authors Houston Hughes (poet) and Brian Rea (visual artist) have a book -- HELLO NUMBERS! (published in 2020 by The Experiment).  This book, like those old rhymes, gives young readers the opportunity for fun with numbers as they learn.

Here's a sample:  

    Learning meets wonder
           when you invite numbers to come play in your imagination!

       First think of One peeking out from the night
       Like a point, or a dot, or a shimmering light.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Syllable Squares

        Poetry and


       are languages

       that can aid us

               to think

               new thoughts.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Inventing Zero

     A Pennsylvania friend who is now in Oklahoma, Sharon Solloway -- whom I got to know when we were both faculty members at Bloomsburg University (now part of Commonwealth University)  --  shared with me on Facebook the following mathy poem,  "Inventing Zero" by Canadian astronomer Rebecca Elson (1960-1999).  Found in Elson's collection,  A  Responsibility to Awe (Carcanet Classics, 2018)  "Inventing Zero" is available along with other samples of Elson's work here at this link.

       Inventing Zero      by Rebecca Elson

               First it was lines in the sand,
               The tangents, intersections,
               Things that never met,
               And you with your big stick,
               Calling it geometry,   

Monday, June 5, 2023

Number Patterns in Nature

     Naval Academy engineering professor and math-poetry fan Gregory Coxson has recently introduced me to poetry by Mattie Quesenberry Smith at VMI (for a bio of Smith, go to this page, scroll down, click on BIO) -- she and I have connected and she has shared with me several of her mathy poems; here is one about the Fibonacci numbers -- a number pattern found in nature:  

     Fibonacci Found It       by Mattie Quesenberry Smith

        It is spring on House Mountain,
          And I am wondering how
          Fibonacci found it
          And believed that it matters,
          That sequence of numbers
          Hinging on what precedes them,   
          Running this springtime show.
          Soon spring will be sanguine,
          Shouting from steep shadows,
          And the eight-petaled bloodroot,

          A robust and pure lion

          Rooted in his bloody rhizome,
          Is a rare know-it-all.
          A leaf encircles his stem.
          Its strange, veined palm
          Shields him from blood’s loss.

 ”Fibonacci Found It” was first published in Thirty Days: The Best of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project’s First Year,” edited by Marie Gauthier, Tupelo Press, 2015. Reprint rights are retained by author.