Thursday, October 26, 2023

The Thirst to Know HOW MANY?

    One of the important math-poetry projects that I have been involved in is Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics, a poetry anthology collected and edited by mathematician-poet Sarah Glaz and me -- published by AK Peters/CRC Press in 2008 and now available on Kindle and at various online used-book sites.

     A poem in Strange Attractors that I have been drawn to again recently is "Ode to Numbers" by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973).  Here are its opening lines: 

from  Ode to Numbers     by Pablo Neruda

          Oh, the thirst to know
          how many!
          The hunger
          to know
          how many
          stars in the sky!   

Monday, October 23, 2023

Zero Man of India

     An interesting story that Google led me to is told in this article about "Zero Man of India" --  the article tells of  Shahbaz Khan, famously known as Shahbaz Hakbari, a multifaceted individual with talent in poetry, prose, mathematics, and education -- well-educated AND he he is a widely celebrated teacher.

"Mathematics and poetry may seem like two different worlds, but both require creativity, imagination, and thinking outside the box," Shahbaz Khan explained.

The article "Zero Man of India" contains many mentions of Khan/Hakbari's life as a poet -- but has no poems.  Nonetheless, the phrases quoted are poetic -- and, below, I have given two of them the shapes of  poems.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Remembering Louise Gluck

        Poet-Laureate of the United States (2003-2004), winner of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Literature, Louise Glück died recently.  (10/13/23)  (A biographical sketch and many of Glück's  poems are available here at  The quotation below -- sharing her desire "to make something never heard before"  -- links closely to the desires of those of us in mathematics, to create the new.

A quote given with Gluck's obituary in The Washington Post

This 2020 blog posting features Gluck's "Parable of the Swans" and here, at, is "A Fable" -- a poem about two women and one baby.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

An infinite design -- in a poem

Like a circle, the "lazy 8" or infinity symbol -- shown below --never ends.

Recently it was a delight to me to find -- here in the Harpy Hybrid Review -- the following diagram-poem by Philip Wexler entitled "INFINITY".   And I have enjoyed reading and rereading -- exploring the ways that shape and meaning intertwine.

Monday, October 9, 2023

Celebrate Ada Lovelace -- and all women in STEM

     The second Tuesday in October -- this year, Tuesday, October 10 -- is Ada Lovelace Day..  Details of the celebration planned by The Royal Institution of Science are available here at this link.  A careful biography of this pioneering female mathematician -- Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) -- is available here.

"Ada Lovelace Day (ALD) is an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). It aims to increase the profile of women in STEM and, in doing so, create new role models who will encourage more girls into STEM careers and support women already working in STEM."  Quote from

Although her father, poet Lord Byron, had no interest in mathematics, Ada's mother, Lady Byron, was supportive as was astronomer-mathematician Mary Somerville (1780-1872) -- who became a longtime friend and math-encourager. (Lots more details of Lovelace's math-life are available here at the St Andrews Math-History website and her pioneering work with the Analytical Engine is featured here.)

      Below is a poem by Twitter poet Brian Bilston (@brian_bilston) that celebrates Ada Lovelace.

Indigenous Peoples Day

      Today (October 9, 2023) is Indigenous Peoples Day -- and I call attention to a thought-provoking activist poem by Linda Hogan, a member of the Chickasaw Nation and an important contributor to indigenous literature.  Here are the opening lines of Hogan's "Embodied."

     I am embodied first by the numbers
     given by my grandparents,
     no choice but to sign the Dawes Act.

Hogan's complete poem is available here in World LIterature Today

A portion of Hogan's poem was also posted here in this blog -- back in 2020.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Sunflower Swirls

     From Sharon Jones at Connell Co-op College in Manchester, UK, I have learned about National Poetry Day -- an event organised by Forward Arts Foundation and held on the first Thursday of October -- an annual celebration encouraging everyone to make, experience, and share poetry with family and friends.  Today, October 5, I celebrate the day by offering one of Sharon Jones' poems.

Turing's Sunflowers       by Sharon Jones

I am perplexed by mathematics.
The numbers and patterns make no sense to me.
I am transfixed by the yellow blaze of sunflowers.
Like you.

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Celebrating a WINNING Woman!

     The International Congress of Mathematicians meets every four years (next in 2026) and, at these meetings, awards the Fields Medal --  an award given to two or three or four outstanding mathematicians aged 40 or younger.  The year 2014 was the first in which a woman won this medal -- "For her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces." -- she was Maryam Mirzakhani (1977-2017) -- who died too young of breast cancer.

     In her collection, Mathematics for Ladies:  Poems on Women in Science (Goldsmiths Press, 2022), Jessy Randall has a poem that celebrates Mirzakhani -- and I offer it below.

     MARYAM MIRZAKHANI (1977-2017)      by Jessy Randall