Monday, April 29, 2024

Speaking in Fibs . . .

     Syllable-count patterns often are used in poems--helping to give a rhythmic tempo to the words.  As I mention often, syllable counts -- and other word-patterns -- help me to discover new and special meanings to convey. When I start to write, my thoughts are scattered and need to be gathered and focused -- and a poetic form helps this to happen.  The sonnet and the villanelle have long been valued examples of poetry patterns.  More recent -- and more simple -- is the FibIntroduced by poet Gregory Pincus back in 2006, the Fib is a six-line poem whose syllables are counted by the first six Fibonacci numbers:  1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8. (Each succeeding Fibonacci number is the sum of the two that precede it.)

     Since 2006, a journal aptly named The Fib Review has offered (available at this website) more than 40 issues of poems, all of whose lines have syllable-counts that are  Fibonacci numbers.  Here is a portion of one of the poems -- by Washington-based poet Sterling Warner --  (the complete poem is found here).

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Math in Shakespeare . . .

     Yesterday, April 23, is the day on which William Shakespeare's birthday is celebrated; he was born long ago in 1564 and the actual date is uncertain.   The BBC Radio Newshour today featured this event in its broadcast  and told of ways that Shakespeare used mathematical ideas in his writing.  A broadcast recording is available at this link; the Shakespeare-math info begins at approximately 25 minutes into the show.   Ideas come from a book that is coming out next September,  Much Ado About Numbers: Shakespeare's Mathematical Life and Times by Rob Eastaway

One of the interesting items I found as I browsed was the phrase

    eight score eight       in Othello -- a three-syllable way for saying 168.

     Here is a link to an article that focuses on Shakespeare's use of zero.

Monday, April 22, 2024

EARTH DAY -- what are ways to preserve our planet?

Earth -- conserve 
our resources, shift 
to non-polluting substances.

As many of you readers know, the poem above is an example of  a FIB -- a six-line poem with syllable-counts matching the first six Fibonacci numbers,  When I sit down to write about a particular topic, I often find the the FIB format is a good way to start -- developing an idea starting with single words and gradually developing longer phrases.   And, today, outside of this blog, I am trying to learn more about earth friendly substances.

If you have time to be interested in more mathy and earth-friendly poems, this link leads to the results of a blog search for climate change and this second link leads to previous Earth Day blog postings.

 This link leads to postings -- and poems -- in this blog related to CLIMATE.

And here is a link to several previous EARTH DAY postings..

Thursday, April 18, 2024

A Mathy Celebration of National Poetry Month

     It is a delight to me to see math and science publications including poetry!  Today I am enjoying the work of North Carolina poet Britt Kaufmann -- Kaufmann works as a math tutor -- and her poem "Midnight Calculus" appeared in the February 2024 issue of Scientific American.  The accompanying bio mentioned that Kaufmann took her first calculus course at age 47.

     More recently, under the heading "In Celebration of National Poetry Month," MAA FOCUS, the Newsmagazine of the Mathematical Association of America. another Kaufmann poem appeared, "Z-score of Zero."   (A z-score measures exactly how many standard deviations above or below the mean a particular data-number is.)  Kaufmann gives us a thoughtful poetic reflection of math on life!  

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Geometry of Distraction

      California poet Carol Dorf is a retired math teacher and writer of a very varied library of poems, including many with math connections.  It has been my pleasure to read with her at math-poetry readings and to include a number of her poems here in my blog.  (This link leads to a list of my many postings of her work here in this blog.)
    Browsing online today, I have come across still another one of Dorf's mathy poems which I would like to share.  Here are the opening lines of "Spring Again: -- and the complete poem is found here at

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Enjoying Math-Poetry Connections

           Poet Emily Lutken's first career was as a physician -- she specialized in family medicine and spent many years of practice in the Navaho Nation.  Following this she taught middle and high school math and science for several years , , , and now, retired, she has time for music, poetry, and other arts.

     On my shelf --- for my frequent rereading and enjoyment -- is a copy of Lutken's 2021 collection, Manifold:  poetry of mathematics. (3: A Taos Press, 2021).   Here is a favorite poem of mine from that collection:

   Prime Syllable Song    by Emily Lutken

          do not care
          to make a rhyme.
          They blaze wild pathways.
          While others tow the line,
          they play crwths or smash guitars,
          unlike composite counts assigned
          to echo harmonic notes in time
          and avoid the oddball and ill-defined.
          Without primes, though, the music would be boring,
          the sing-song regularity, the constant whine
          would drive all of us absolutely batshit bonkers.

This link leads to more information about Manifold, in which the poem above is found.  This link leads to Lutken's website -- which includes more poetry and a bio of the poet.

This link leads to a poem by Lutken about a solar eclipse.  

Another of Lutken's poems, "Ars Parabola," appears in this blog at this link.

Monday, April 8, 2024

Using POETRY as an aid in learning MATHEMATICS

     "Math problems take on new meaning in this class that combines rhymes and verse with math instruction."

     The above quotation comes from the website The Conversation, from a series entitled Uncommon Courses -- a series that highlights unconventional approaches to teaching.  In an article entitled "Rhyme and reason -- why a university professor uses poetry to teach math," Ricardo Martinez -- who teaches mathematics education at Penn State University --  tells how math problems take on new meaning in a class that combines rhymes and verse with math instruction. 

 As he tells about the course, Martinez explains:

I have always enjoyed writing poetry. As a high school mathematics teacher, I recall telling my students that everything is and can be connected to math, even creative writing. Then, as a graduate student, I read about people using “I am” poem templates for young people to express who they are through a series of “I am” statements, and I thought to myself, where is the “I am” math poem template? So I created one.