Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Seeking an EQUATION for LOVE . . .

       One of the interesting and fun people I had the good fortune to meet at the 2017 Bridges Math-Arts Conference in Waterloo, Ontario, is Lisa Lajeunesse.  At Capilano College, Lajeunesse teaches a course entitled "Math and Creative Arts" and presented at Bridges a thought-provoking paper entitled "The Golden Ratio:  How Close is Close Enough?"   My close connection with her came because we both were involved in a Bridges 2017 Math-Poetry Reading.  She has given me permission to include her fun and mathy poem here.

  An Equation for Love    by Lisa Lajeunesse     

          They’ve found an equation for love

          It goes something like this
          love equals attraction times compatibility to the power of opportunity
          there’s more of course and there’s been much fiddling
          with coefficients and lesser terms
          involving age, pheromones and duration of eye contact   

Monday, August 14, 2017

The wisdom of grooks . . .

     From Wikpedia, we have this definition:       A grook ("gruk" in Danish) is a form of short aphoristic poem or rhyming aphorism, created by the Danish poet, designer, inventor and scientist Piet Hein (1905-1996), who wrote over 7000 of them, mostly in Danish or English. A couple mathy grooks are offered below -- and, below them, links to more.

        PROBLEMS          by Piet Hein

Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back.

The grook shown above and more are found here:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Counting, women, loving mathematics

     Here is another Cento from BRIDGES -- for background information, please see my August 4 posting -- this one composed by Erinn and Catherine.  Authors of the four lines are Judy Green, Shakuntala Devi, Anonymous, and Mike Naylor.

 How many women mathematicians can you name?
How many of you love mathematics?
Women count. Men count. People count.
Counting each and every step along this rocky shore.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Centos from 2017 Bridges Math-Arts Conference

     Last Monday evening I returned home from the 2017 Bridges Math-and-the-Arts Conference at the University of Waterloo.  One of the special events in which I participated was a Sunday afternoon poetry reading; information about the reading (and links) are here in my July 17 posting .  
     Another conference activity -- machine-based and developed by Waterloo computer science grad student Erinn Atwater to work with a data-base of quotations I had gathered that relate to math or poetry -- was a machine set-up to invite conference attendees to compose a four-line Cento from a screen-selection of choices.
     Here is a sample of the Cento poetry that was created; the assembler of these lines listed her name simply as Bianca:

Mathematics is not only connected to art; it is just art.                  (by Solomon Marcus)
There is always a third point between any two.                             (by Michael Rosen)
My imagination is still the same. It’s bad with large numbers.       (by Wislawa Szymborska)
Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.                        (by William Shakespeare)

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Titles and links for previous posts

Blog visitors are invited to
Scroll through the titles below, browsing to find items of interest
Click on any label -- a list is found in the right-hand column below the author profile 
Enter term(s) in the SEARCH box -- and find all posts containing those terms.
 For example, here is a link to the results of a SEARCH using the word inverse.

                                       2017 Posts
July  9  Three Odd Words 
July  5  Finding poems in Maria Mitchell's words 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

from "The Half-Finished Heaven"

     In 2011, Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer (1931-2015) won the Nobel Prize and this year Graywolf Press has issued a wonderful collection of his work The Half-Finished Heaven: Selected Poems (translated by Robert Bly).  Here is the title poem; is it mathematical?

       The Half-Finished Heaven     by Tomas Transtromer

       Cowardice breaks off on its path.
       Anguish breaks off on its path.
       The vulture breaks off in its flight.

       The eager light runs into the open,
       even the ghosts take a drink.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

A CENTO from BRIDGES 2017 Poets

     A cento is a literary work made from quotations from other works -- most often it is a poem, assembled from lines by other poets.    Below I have created a cento from lines written by the poets who have been invited to participate in the July 30 Poetry Reading at the 2017 Bridges Math-Arts Conference in Waterloo, Ontario.  A wonderful program is planned -- it's not too late to register and join us.

       All is number,      mysterious proportions             
       Like Egyptians      burying gold with the dead       
       Golden Fear                    
       that divides and leaves     no remainder   

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Too soon -- Maryam Mirzakhani taken by cancer

     The brilliant and celebrated mathematician -- and 2014 Fields Medal Winner -- Maryam Mirzakhani has, on July 14 at age 40, died after a long battle with cancer.  I learned this sad news from NPR.  The radio story tells that (as was the case also for me) early in her life, Mirzakhani had wanted to be a writer, but her mathematical talents won out.  Her description of mathematics is a charming one and math deserves to be more-often pictured in this positive way:

          is fun --
          like solving
          a puzzle or
          connecting the dots
          in a detective case.

This stanza-form, in which lines grow in length by one syllable at a time, is called a syllable-snowball.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

They Say She Was Good -- for a Woman

      Regulars to this blog know of my appreciation and support for the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics -- an online journal that publishes poetry and fiction as well as articles that link the arts with mathematics.  Bravo to editors Gizem Karaali and Mark Huber -- a new issue (Vol. 7, Issue 2) has come online today.
     I am honored to announce that my article, "They Say She Was Good -- for a Woman," -- a collection of poems and musings about women in mathematics (and featuring a poem about Emmy Noether) -- is part of the current issue.  

     Other key items in this issue of JHM that I have already found time to enjoy include a visual poem of  geometry and numbers by Sara Katz, a collection of poems about "infinity" by Pam Lewis, a review of poetry anthologies by Robin Chapman, a call (deadline, 11/1/17) for "mathematical" Haiku; a call (deadline 1/1/2018) for papers on mathematics and motherhood.  Go to the Table of Contents and enjoy it ALL.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Three Odd Words

     I love the mental jolt I get when a math word is used with a non-math meaning -- suddenly some playful back-and-forth happens in my head.  Here it happens in a tiny poem by Polish Nobelist Wislawa Szymborska (1923-2012).   

       The Three Oddest Words     by Wislawa Szymborska

       When I pronounce the word Future,
       the first syllable already belongs to the past.

       When I pronounce the word Silence,
       I destroy it.

       When I pronounce the word Nothing,
       I make something no nonbeing can hold.
This poem is found on my shelf in Map:  Collected and Last Poems  (Mariner Books, 2016).  Translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanislaw Baranczak, edited by Clare Cavanagh.  This link leads to several previous posts that also include work by Szymborska.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Finding poems in Maria Mitchell's words

SO MANY words and phrases are poetic
that are NOT YET called poems.

A recent Facebook posting for the Max Planck Society featured this picture and quote
by 19th century American Astronomer Maria Mitchell (1818-1889):

Monday, July 3, 2017

Blog History -- titles, links for prior posts (to 2010)

Blog visitors are invited to
Scroll through the titles below, browsing to find items of interest
Click on any label -- a list is found in the right-hand column below the author profile 
Enter term(s) in the SEARCH box -- and find all posts containing those terms.
 For example, here is a link to the results of a SEARCH using the word integral.

 June 2017 Posts: 
   Jun 27  Chains of Reasoning
   Jun 22  Euclid's Iron Hand

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The NUMBERS that help us REMEMBER . . .

     Born in Lithuania, poet Czesław Miłosz (1911-2004) became fluent in Polish, Lithuanian, Russian, English and French.  He emigrated to the United States (to California) in 1960 and was the 1980 winner of the Nobel Prize in literature.  He was not fluent in the language of mathematics but his poem "The Titanic" -- written in Berkeley in 1985 and excerpted below -- illustrates the power of numbers in poetic description AND the circumstances of which numbers are remembered.

from    The Titanic    by  Czesław Miłosz

Events--catastrophes of which they learned and those others of which they did not want to know. In Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a flood in 1889 took 2,300 lives; 700 persons perished in the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.  Yet they did not notice the earthquake at Messina in Sicily (1908),

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Chains of Reasoning

     In a recent conversation about mathematics, one of us said, "Mathematics is not about what is true, or cannot be, but is a collection of valid chains of reasoning."  And from there my mind wandered on to Clarence Wylie's sonnet (offered below) -- which is the final poem in a wide-ranging anthology that Sarah Glaz and I edited : Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (A K Peters/CRC Press, 2008).  Enjoy Wylie's play with thinking about the "holy order" of mathematics.

       Paradox      by Clarence R Wylie, Jr. (1911-1995)

       Not truth, nor certainty. These I forswore
       In my novitiate, as young men called
       To holy orders must abjure the world.  

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Euclid's Iron Hand

      Alice Major is a Canadian poet who admits to having loved mathematics since girlhood and who often includes mathematical ideas and images in her poems.  The first poet laureate of Edmonton, Alberta, Major has been instrumental in spreading a love of poetry in many directions and venues.  The selection below, "Euclid's Iron Hand," first appeared in Wild Equations, the Spring 2016 issue of Talking-Writing, an online journal that also in 2012 featured math-related poems and an essay by TW editor, Carol Dorf, "Why Poets Sometimes Think in Numbers."

Both Alice Major and Carol Dorf are part of the Poetry Reading
at this summer's BRIDGES Math-Arts Conference July 27-31 in Waterloo, Ontario.
Will we see you there?

Euclid's Iron Hand    by Alice Major

My iron cannot cope
with non-Euclidean geometry.
Antique and irritable, it insists
on plane surfaces and the fifth postulate,
hissing, Lie down flat, goddamit.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Three Plus Four Divided by Seven

     A good friend, Doru Radu -- with whom I have partnered to translate some Romanian poetry into English -- shares with me a love for the work of Polish poet and 1996 Nobelist, Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012).  Doru lives in Poland now and had a chance to meet Szymborska, to hear her read, and to translate some of her work into his native Romanian. And last summer, when he traveled to New York, he brought to me a copy of the posthumously published collection, Enough (Wydawnictwo a5).  Here are a couple of mathy stanzas from one of its poems, "Confessions of a Reading Machine."

Confessions of a Reading Machine     by Wisława Szymborska 
 translated by Clare Cavanagh

I, Number Three Plus Four Divided by Seven,
am renowned for my vast linguistic knowledge.
I now recognize thousands of languages
employed by extinct people
in their histories.  

Friday, June 16, 2017

Fondness for numbers . . .

     Today I am looking back to a posting on 23 April 2011 that includes the first stanza of one of my favorite mathy poems; here is a copy-and-paste of a part of that day's entry.
      A poem that offers affection for mathematics is "Numbers," by Mary Cornish, found as Poem 8 at Poetry 180 (a one-a-day collection of poems for secondary students) as well as at The Poetry Foundation. Cornish's poem begins with this stanza:

     I like the generosity of numbers.
     The way, for example,
     they are willing to count
     anything or anyone:
     two pickles, one door to the room,
     eight dancers dressed as swans.   

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Equation after equation, smiling . . .

       Today's news offers the exciting announcement that Tracy K. Smith is the new Poet Laureate of the United States.  I have not found much of mathematics in her work BUT there are these (offered below) provocative lines of Section 6 from the title poem of  Life on Mars:  Poems  (Graywolf Press, 2011).  This Pulitzer Prize-winning collection is an elegy for Smith's father, a scientist who worked on the Hubble telescope.  

from  Life on Mars       by Tracy K. Smith


Who understands the world, and when
Will he make it make sense?  Or she?

Maybe there is a pair of them, and they sit
Watching the cream disperse into their coffee

Like the A-bomb. This equals that, one says,
Arranging a swarm of coordinates  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Finding the Normal Curve

     A poem I have much admired since I first saw it (January, 2016) in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics is "Pension Building, Washington, DC" -- shown below.  At first glance I thought this work by poet E. Laura Golberg to be a growing-melting syllable-snowball, but her syllables conform to line-length rather than count, offering us -- in both shape and content -- a bit of statistics, the normal curve.  Please enjoy!

       Pension Building, Washington, DC    by E. Laura Golberg

       of the
       curve can
       be found in
       old buildings    

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The treasures of memory . . .

                 The Days of the Month

     Thirty days hath September,
     April, June, and November;
     February has twenty-eight alone,
     All the rest have thirty-one,
     Excepting leap-year--that's the time
     When February's days are twenty-nine.
                                                       OLD SONG.

Yesterday, hoping to arrange my bookshelves in better order, behind other newer volumes I found an old friend:   Poems Every Child Should Know (Doubleday, Page & Company, 1913).  On the title page an inscription indicating the book was a present to my Aunt Ruth on her tenth birthday.   The collection -- with its poems by Robert Louis Stevenson and Eugene Field and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and so many others -- got me to thinking how much I have enjoyed throughout my life the few poems I have memorized.  And finding the poem above reminded me how much I also have valued particular mnemonic devices for remembering critical information. 

This brief stanza gives thirteen digits of π:    See, I have a rhyme assisting
                                                        my feeble brain,
                                                        its tasks sometimes resisting.
 More poetry for π is available here.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Celebrate mathematics -- and the other liberal arts!

     Before it became linked to science and engineering and computing, mathematics was one of the liberal arts.  And, in my view, it should continue in this role also. 
     In a recent posting to the WOM-PO email list-serve to which I subscribe, this provocative poem by Alicia Ostriker recently appeared -- and the poet has given me permission to post it here.  This selection, "The Liberal Arts" is found in Ostriker's latest collection, Waiting for the Light, published in February, 2017 by University of Pittsburgh Press.   Thanks, Alicia, for your poem.

The Liberal Arts      by Alicia Ostriker

In mathematics they say the most beautiful solution is the correct one
In physics they say everything that can happen must happen
In history they say the more it changes the more it is the same   

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May 2017 -- and prior -- titles, dates of posts

 Use a MATHY POEM to extend understanding --
or perhaps to persuade,  to promote a cause.

     For example, the May 16 posting (link below) deals with an effort to understand an autistic child.  The poem offered on May 9 deals with climate concerns, the lines given on May 3 speak out for immigrants.  Scroll down to find lots more.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kandinsky's geometry inspires poetry . . .

     Found at the vast and varied international poetry site, Poetry International Web, a mathy poem by Australian poet Katherine Gallagher  entitled "AFTER KANDINSKY: YELLOW, RED, BLUE (1925)."  Enjoy!
Yellow-Red-Blue, 1925  by Wassily Kandinsky

After Kandinsky:  Yellow-Red-Blue (1925)      
                                                by Katherine Gallagher
Watch the animal eyes that whisk corners
faster than an angel breathing passwords
in a mesh of yellow. Cloud-sure, life flags itself on.  
Circle after circle is mapped in the mystery
of a line quicker than an arrow, shot from left to right,
the dark corners turned in on themselves,
while the sea advances up the cliffs.     

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A poem with 90 lines, 269 words . . .

     A poet whose work I enjoy is Charles Bernstein  (editor at the electronic poetry center,  a vast and wonderful site to visit and browse)-- and one of my neighbors recently surprised me with a link to a new-to-me Bernstein poem, "Thank You for Saying Thank You," that he had found (audio at  Below I offer an excerpt -- and a link to the text of the complete poem.  And, because I first misunderstood and thought that my neighbor had heard the poem on NPR, I went to and found this wonderful treasury of poems and commentary.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

My Math Teacher

     The 2016-2017 school year is drawing to a close.  Some are loving their math teachers and some are celebrating them with poetry.  Here are the opening stanzas of a poem by Mia Pratt about her teacher -- the complete poem is found at here (at

     My Math Teacher     by Mia Pratt

     My math teacher was such a colorful character
     she was the queen of Mathematics at our school
     she loved linear regressions and probability
     and permutations and combinations too!

     My math teacher loved to
     entertain us with her Listerine coated smile
     and her heart as pure
     as the golden sand on Small Hope Bay
     she loved making calculus and matrices fun for us
     while March 14th was her second Christmas
     and grading our exams was her New Year's Day!
              . . .

Poet and novelist John Updike (1932-2009) was a math teacher's son  -- here is a link to his sonnet, "Midpoint," about his father.  Additional poems about teachers may be found using the blog SEARCH.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"Mathematics" & "Poetry" in the same sentence!

Thanks to Google for helping me find things -- for example, this quote from Moroccan writer Tahar Ben Jelloun :

     Poetry is a form of mathematics,
               a highly rigorous relationship with words.

And this quote from American poet Carl Sandburg (1872-1962):

     Poetry is a mystic, sensuous mathematics of fire, smoke-stacks, 
               waffles, pansies, people, and purple sunsets. 

For more about Jelloun, here is a Wikipedia link.  
This link leads to my 2012 posting of Sandburg's poem, "Number Man."

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Solve for X . . . and understand . . .

     In this morning's email, today's Poem-a-Day from has the mathy title, "Solve for X." Written by Oliver de la Paz  -- born in the Philippines and raised in Ontario, Oregon -- and teaching at the College of the Holy Cross, de la Paz introduces "Solve for X" with these words: 

“‘Solve for X’ is part of a sequence of poems about my son who’s on the autistic spectrum. I’ve been attempting to understand the way he perceives the world and I’ve been using cause and effect models as poetic templates. Word problems requiring the mathematician to solve for an unknown, thus, have become a metaphor for how we negotiate our relationship as father and son.”

Please go here to read (or to listen to) de la Paz's poem about trying to understand the unknown.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Links to poems and songs with STEM themes

     During April 2017, Indiana State Poet Laureate Shari Wagner teamed with Indiana Humanities to feature the work of Hoosier poets to celebrate April as National Poetry Month.  This humanities website posts a poem each day and in honor of  Quantum Leap -- a Humanities program focused on bringing together STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and the Humanities - the poem featured each Monday in April had a STEM-related theme.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Using SONGS to teach STEM -- online conference

     A recent email from Greg Crowther has let me know of an upcoming conference that looks to be LOTS OF FUN -- an interdisciplinary virtual conference on the use of song in teaching STEM subjects.  The conference is "VOICES: Virtual Ongoing Interdisciplinary Conferences on Educating with Song"  -- the dates are Sept. 27-28, 2017, the conference is entirely online, the registration cost is $10.  Early registration is encouraged to allow time for preparation and submission of presentation proposals.
     Song lyrics often are poetry and in this blog we have included lyrics on a variety of occasions.  Here are links to several lyrics featured herein.
          "The Derivative Song" by Tom Lehrer,
           Lines from "Mandlebrot Set" by Jonathan Coulton,
          "Circle Song" and lines from "Hotel Infinity"  by Larry Lesser (who is one of the featured VOICES speakers),
          "Questions You Can't Ever Decide" and two others by Bill Calhoun.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Save the Climate, change STEM to STEAM

     Australian poet Erica Jolly is one of the leaders of the STEM to STEAM movement in Australia -- she has introduced me to The Conversation, and, in it, this interesting and relevant article, "Did Artists Lead the Way in Mathematics?"
     For many years a secondary school teacher in South Australia, Jolly has written Challenging the Divide:  Approaches to Science and Poetry (Lythrum Press, 2010) -- a book that is rich with citations and arguments for integrating the arts and the sciences -- and includes a variety of poems.  Also rich with math-science content is Jolly's poetry collection, Making a Stand (Wakefield Press, 2015).
     And here is one of Jolly's recent poems -- sent to me with this comment:   Here's a poem - it deals with numbers in my way. Someone can do the multiplication.   Best wishes  Erica

A Significant Cabinet Change by the Prime Minister
in this New Coalition Government                           by Erica Jolly

And reading “Lab Girl: A story of trees, science and love”
by Hope Jahren, published by Fleet, in the UK, 2016.
Professor Jahren was named in 2005 as one of the
“Brilliant 10” young scientists. Geobiology is
her area of study and she is now a tenured
Professor at the University of Hawai’i.   

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Speaking out for Immigrants, McNish

        British spoken-word poet Hollie McNish has shouted out in verse in support of  immigration.  Her poem, from which I include some lines below, is entitled "Mathematics" and a video of McNish performing the poem is available here at the poet's webpage.  Thanks, Hollie McNish, for making important noise on this important issue.

from   Mathematics     by Hollie McNish
            . . .
       I am sick of crappy mathematics
       Cos I love a bit of sums
       I spent three years into economics 
       And I geek out over calculus    

Monday, May 1, 2017

April, 2017 -- and prior -- titles, dates of posts

 Celebrate MAY  with a MATHY POEM --
many may be found here in this blog!  Scroll down for titles of posts!  

If you are looking for mathy poems on a particular topic, the SEARCH box in the right-column may help you find them. For example, here is a link to posts found when I searched using the term "parallel."  And here are posts that include the term "angle."   To find a list of additional useful search terms, scroll down the right-hand column

       Apr 28  March for Climate -- again! 
       Apr 26  Math-Arts Journal -- Free Access 
       Apr 20  Remembering Karl Patten 
       Apr 18  Poetry by Victorian Scientists 

Friday, April 28, 2017

March for Climate -- again!

       The lines below are copied from a posting made on September 20, 2014 -- posted as I finalized plans to travel to New York City for a climate march.  From that March I saw some positive action BUT I am grieving over the changes in the last 100 days.

     To have a small carbon footprint I will march tomorrow with only a small sign -- one that wears a 3x3-square reminder that dates back to a 1968 essay, "Tragedy of the Commons,"  by ecologist Garrett Hardin (1915-2003). 

       There   is   no
       place to throw
       that ' s   away.

WHY is it taking us so long to act to preserve a habitable planet?  Do we not care about the world we are leaving for our grandchildren?

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Math-Arts Journal -- Free Access

     Sometimes an email contains a wonderful gift -- such was the case recently when I got a message from the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts giving me access AT THIS LINK to a generous collection of outstanding articles from the 10-year history of this important publication.  One of the articles relates to poetry:  Niccolò Tartaglia's poetic solution to the cubic equation, by Arielle Saiber of Bowdoin College in Maine.
     The collection of free articles notes this history of JMA:  "The journal took shape following a meeting arranged by the late Reza Sarhangi at the 2005 Bridges [Math-Arts] Conference, where Kate Watt from Taylor & Francis met with a group of interested conference participants. Following a group proposal led by Gary Greenfield, the journal launched in 2007 with Gary as editor for the first five volumes. Craig S Kaplan then took over as editor in 2012, until he handed the reins to current editor Mara Alagic at the beginning of 2017.  BIG THANKS to all of you for this noteworthy journal!

Here, from Saiber's article, are a few lines from 
          Veronica Gavagna's translation of Tartaglia's Quando chel cubo:

Monday, April 24, 2017

Poetry and Science -- Allies in Discovery

     Poet Jane Hirshfield read onstage as part of the March for Science in Washington, DC on Saturday April 22.   Science and poetry both arise from the same desire for exploration, Hirshfield opined.  “If you don’t think at all, you think of them as opposites,” she said. “They are allies in discovery.”
     Hirshfield's staged poem, "On the 5th Day," appeared in the Washington Post a few days before the march.    Here are its opening stanzas (visit the Post link for the complete work.)
       On the Fifth Day     by Jane Hirshfield

       On the fifth day
       the scientists who studied the rivers
       were forbidden to speak
       or to study the rivers.

       The scientists who studied the air
       were told not to speak of the air,    

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Remembering Karl Patten

     From my Lewisburg, PA friend, Ruta Karelis, I have recently learned of the April 16  death of my beloved first poetry teacher, Bucknell professor and poet, Karl Patten (1927-2017).  Karl's oft-repeated phrase (and poem title) "Every Thing Connects"  -- found on my shelf in The Impossible Reaches (Dorcas Press, 1992) -- is on my mind daily.  Another poem from that collection -- "The Play" -- I am reading and rereading today, remembering the poet.  Here it is, from Karl Patten, for you.

The Play     by Karl Patten

You're tired?  I'm tired too.  Let's forget we're people, forget all that.

You be a horizon, infinite, flat, a forever-place,
I'll be double, gray-blue ocean, gray-blue sky, touching you, just. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Poetry by Victorian Scientists

     Thanks to Greg Coxson who has recently alerted me to this 2011 article by Paul Collins in New Scientist, "Rhyme and reason: The Victorian poet scientists."  In the article, Collins is reviewing an anthology edited by Daniel Brown entitled The Poetry of Victorian Scientists: Style, Science and Nonsense (Cambridge University Press, Reprint-2015).
     The article has links to poetry by James Clerk Maxwell (1831-1879), William J. Macquorn Rankine (1820-1872), and James Joseph Sylvester (1814-1897).  Below I offer two of the eight entertaining stanzas from Rankine's poem, "The Mathematician in Love." (This poem and Maxwell's "A Lecture on Thomson's Galvanometer" also appear in the wonderful anthology that Sarah Glaz and I edited -- Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (A K Peters/CRC Press, 2008, now available as an e-book.)

from  The Mathematician in Love     by William J Macquorn Rankine  

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Fib for Easter

     Recently a reader commented privately to me that she did not like the Fib as a poem-style since it seems to allow almost any prose statement to be formed into a poem.  My opposite reaction to her comment stems, in part, from my use of the Fib with workshop students -- many of them join me with delight at the way the Fib syllable-count format has guided them to pleasing word-selections.  
     As Easter approaches, my thoughts have been shaped into these lines:

          to celebrate spring's
          victory of life over death. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Mathematics and Poetry are . . .

     This week between Palm Sunday and Easter is a school vacation week for six of my grandchildren -- Carly and Emma, Shaya and Daniel, Serena and Caroline -- who live in the Washington, DC area.  And so I am enjoying their company rather than developing new blog posts.  But I do have a few relevant Poetry-Math words (found at from Amit Ray:

“Mathematics and poetry are the two ways
 to drink the beauty of truth.”
― Amit Ray

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Prime -- with rhythm and rhyme

     Earlier this year, an email from James D. Herren let me know about his recent e-book, Wit and Wonder, Poetry with Rhythm and Rhyme --  a collection developed to be enjoyed by readers from 5th grade onward.  Herren is an advocate of energetic rhyming verse, AND his collection has some mathy stuff -- including these two little poems.  Thanks, Dave! 

          Prime   by James D Herren

          Our love is prime –  
          Divisible by none
          But you and I,
          For you and I Are One.      

Monday, April 3, 2017

Math-Stat Awareness Month -- find a poem!

APRIL is Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month
National Poetry Month!

 Celebrate with a MATHY POEM, found here in this blog!  Scroll down!
If you are looking for mathy poems on a particular topic, the SEARCH box in the right-column may help you find them. For example, here is a link to posts found when I searched using the term "parallel."  And here are posts that include the term "angle."   To find a list of additional useful search terms, scroll down the right-hand column

For your browsing pleasure, here are the titles and dates of previous blog postings,
moving backward from the present.  Enjoy!
Mar 31  Math and poetry in film
Mar 28  Split this Rock, Freedom Plow Award, April 21
Mar 27  Math-themed poems at
Mar 23  Remember Emmy Noether!