Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Counting What's Left

     Recently at the 2018 Split This Rock Poetry Festival, I purchased a copy of ghost fishing:  An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology edited by poet Melissa Tuckey (University of Georgia Press, 2018) and, below, I offer a sad poem about "counting" from this anthology.   There is much to value in this fine anthology; follow this link for more information.

As If Hearing Heavy Furniture Moved on the Floor Above Us
                                                 by Jane Hirshfield
As things grow rarer, they enter the ranges of counting.
Remain this many Siberian tigers,
that many African elephants. Three hundred red egrets.
We scrape from the world its tilt and meander of wonder
as if eating the last burned onions and carrots from a cast iron pan.
Closing eyes to taste better the char of ordinary sweetness.

Hirshfield's poem also is found in the Split This Rock Poetry Database along with many other poems of environmental concern and protest.  It was first published in Washington Square Review.   This link connects to work by Jane Hirshfield featured in previous postings for this blog.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Playing with time

        Here is a poem that plays with the geometry of time -- a poem that first appeared in Mathematics Magazine, Vol 68, No 6 (December 1995), page 288.   Several of my other mathy poems written around that same time were collected in a booklet, My Dance is Mathematics, now out of print but available here on my website.  

       Finding Time     by JoAnne Growney

       Points chase points
       around the circle,
       fighting time.
       You know time's a circle,
       rather than a line.          

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Meeting the horizon line . . .

Poet James Galvin's work is described in this bio as both musical and "profoundly ecological" -- both qualities that strongly draw me to it.  The following poem, "Art Class," plays with math terminology -- drifting back and forth between reality and abstraction -- in a way that is fun to read as well as thoughtful.  Enjoy!

       Art Class  by James Galvin
       Let us begin with a simple line,
       Drawn as a child would draw it,
       To indicate the horizon,

       More real than the real horizon,
       Which is less than line,
       Which is visible abstraction, a ratio.   

Monday, May 14, 2018

Counting to 13

     I am a long-time New Yorker subscriber and what a delight it is, occasionally, to open a new issue of the magazine and find that one of their poems has links to mathematics. Such happened for the issue of April 2, 2-18 -- on page 70 of that issue is the poem, "Who Knows One" by Jane Shore.  
     Shore's poem features thirteen stanzas, one for each of the counting numbers 1, 2, 3, ... 13.  The nth stanza has n+2 lines -- except for n=13 -- and that last stanza has n+4 lines.
     Thanks, Jane Shore, for playing with numbers!
     Readers -- here is stanza 4.
          Who knows four. I know four.
          What were you doing on all fours?
          Three’s the hearts in a ménage à trois.
          Two’s the jump ropes in double Dutch.
          One is God for God is One—
          One good turn deserves another.

Here is a link to the rest of Shore's poem.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Math gems -- in the imagery of poems

     Much of mathematical terminology is of the flexible sort that can create vivid and interesting images in poetry -- and many poets embed jewels of mathematics here and there in their work.  Whenever I am with a group of poets it almost always turns out that at least one has poems that feature math terms and ideas.  For example, Allyson Lima, a Montgomery College faculty member whom I met at a recent Silver Spring, MD meeting of DC-area translators, shared with me her poem "Turn" -- offered below.  At a recent Takoma Park (MD) Community Center Poetry Reading I met retired attorney Richard Lorr and he has shared with me his poem, "Sweet Crumbs."   At an Arlington, VA reading of prize-winning poems to appear on busses, I met dentist Eric Forsbergh and learned of his poem about DNA-Testing, "Police will Swab Your Cheek."    PLEASE, scroll down, read, Enjoy! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Appreciation of Teachers (this week and FOREVER)

 This is National Teacher Appreciation Week 
 Celebrate your teachers with poems 
This link leads to a poem (previously posted) that celebrates four of my teachers -- Miriam Ayer, Laura Church, T. K. Pan (all math teachers) and Elinor Blair.
Here is a link to a poem by a favorite poetry teacher, Karl Patten.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Statistics and Mindfulness . . .

     April was Math-Stat Awareness Month and National Poetry Month  -- and here in this blog we celebrate those topics year-round -- today with a selection from Larry Lesser, professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, and first published at the website of  The American Statistical Association.

     Mindful Means      by Lawrence M. Lesser

     An explanatory variable has a response and
     The space
     Before response is deemed
     Sought by degrees:
     More time to reflect
     If randomness is
     Uniform, if correlation is
     Causal, chance, or complexity yet

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Counting on . . . and on . . .

     Claudia Gary is an active and celebrated poet in the Washington, DC area and she has a lifelong interest in mathematics -- starting, she tells me, "at age 8 when my father gave me a copy of George Gamow's One, Two, Three, Infinity."  Her poem, "In Binary," offered below, was first published in Rattle and features her and poet Richard Moore (1927-2009) who also was fascinated by mathematics.  Enjoy the fun of counting on and on, in verse.

In Binary     by Claudia Gary

What brought them together were gifts without number,
but binary digits enticed them to stay.
A system that each had discovered in childhood
cemented their fate at an offbeat café.


For her it was somewhat like playing piano.
He would make loops as if stringing small beads.
Both had departed the realm of addition,
since shapes, such as hands, had geometry’s needs.

While nursing their coffee and ordering breakfast,
asking more questions and ordering tea,
learning how deeply their temperaments nested,
each counted on fingers to ten-twenty-three.  

Monday, April 30, 2018

Embrace both art and mathematics

      A recent news article in The Hofstra Chronicle opens with a statement attributed to John Adams that begins something like this:

          I must study Politiks and War that my sons
               may have liberty to study  ...

And then, questions begin -- 
          is it painting and poetry 
                 or mathematics and philosophy      that should follow.

But why must a divide be proposed?

Whether mathematics or painting or philosophy or poetry, let us connect the best thoughts of each -- let our STEM be STEAM.  In this vein, consider the opening stanza of  "To Divine Proportion,"a sonnet by Rafael Alberti (translated from the Spanish by Carolyn Tipton):    

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A Poem for My Pocket

April 26 is "Poem in Your Pocket Day" for 2018
This poem is in my pocket!

The Great Figure      by William Carlos Williams  (1883-1963)

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.

This link leads to several of my previous "Poem in Your Pocket" choices.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Move beyond dislike to the genuine . . .

April celebrates National Poetry Month and
     One of the sad similarities between mathematics and poetry is that both are subjects many people dislike -- with reasons such as "I'm lousy at  ___" or "I don't get it" or "It's stupid -- who needs it?"  Lots of us are trying to change that.

     The title for this posting is the opening line of "Poetry"  by Marianne Moore (1887-1972) -- and the poem goes on like this:

I, too, dislike it.
     Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers in 
     it, after all, a place for the genuine.

In my copy of The Complete Poems of Marianne Moore (Penguin Books, 1981), there is a short version of this poem, "Poetry," that contains only the lines above and, here at we find a longer version that goes on for twenty-three more lines.

 Allow yourself to look for the special, to find it.  
 Celebrate the genuine       in poetry       and       in mathematics.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Poetry sometimes OPPOSES mathematics!

     One of the finest historians of mathematics is Judith V. Grabiner, professor emerita of Pitzer College;  here is a link to one of her thoughtful and widely informative articles, "The Centrality of Mathematics in the History of Western Thought," (originally published in Mathematics Magazine, 1988).
     Toward the end of this article is a section with the header "Opposition."  It opens with this statement:
          The best proof of the centrality of mathematics is that 
               every example of its influence given so far 
               has provoked strong and significant opposition.
Grabiner includes the voices of poets among the resisters.  She mentions Walt Whitman becoming "tired and sick" and leaving to look at the stars in "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer" and quotes stanza from William Wordsworth's "The Tables Turned."   Wordsworth's condemnation of learning as an opponent to nature ends with these stanzas:  

Monday, April 16, 2018

Mathy three-liners -- thoughts for today

When two negatives meet,
is the pair more
or less negative?

          For almost any question,
          almost every number
          is the wrong answer.

                    The irrational numbers
                    are more numerous than
                    the rational ones.

          Steal the same amount
          from both sides of the equation
          if you wish not to be found out.

Which is better --
a large number
or a rational one?

Nothing is.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Interview with mathy poets . . .

     Philadelphia mathematician and poet Marion Cohen has worked with Sundress Publications to prepare an interview offering MATH-POETRY viewpoints from three other mathematician-poets and herself -- including me and Sarah Glaz, recently retired in the mathematics department at the University of Connecticut, and Gizem Karaali, in the mathematics department at Pomona College.  All of these math-women have numerous books, articles, and so on -- and I invite you to follow the links associated with their names and also to go here to read the Sundress interview (which does, at the end, include several poems).

     Each of these math-poetry women has been featured often in this blog -- and, in addition to reading the interview, I urge you to click on their names to explore these links:       Marion Cohen        Sarah Glaz        Gizem Karaali

I close with a link to an article of mine, "Mathematics in Poetry, " published by the MAA a bit more than ten years ago -- an easy read that has generated some recent attention.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Celebrate Martin Gardner

     Martin Gardner (1914-2010) was a friend to mathematics and made many aspects of the subject available to a wide audience for twenty-five years in a Scientific American column , "Mathematical Games" -- material later collected in a variety of books.  I have featured Gardner's connections to math-poetry in several previous blog postings -- and today I want to mention an event  happening this weekend (April 11-15, in Decatur, Georgia), the 13th Annual Gathering for Gardner.   Lots of math-fun is on the agenda -- and a bit of poetry.  
     On Sunday, April 15, Professor Manjul Bhargava of Princeton University will lecture on “Poetry, Drumming, and Mathematics.” Bhargava won the Fields Medal, which is one of the highest honors for a mathematician.  More information about the annual gatherings for Gardner is available here.  
     In closing,  noting the coming of spring with its April celebration of both mathematics and poetry, here are a few lines of verse -- the opening stanza from an old poem of mine entitled "Time."

          The clock goes round --
          making time a circle
          rather than a line.
          Each year's return to spring
          layers time on time.
A second part of "Time" is available here.
Both are collected in Red Has No Reason (Plain View Press, 2010).

Monday, April 9, 2018

March for Our Lives -- Numbers and complexities!

     One of the very moving recent events in my life was the "March for Our Lives" in Washington a couple of weeks ago.  Passionate AND thoughtful speeches by young people that will, I hope, lead to moral and legislative action.  One of the stars whose performance complemented those of the young speakers is Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the current and popular musical "Hamilton"; seeing Miranda at the March reminded me of a poem of protest sent to me by Australian poet Erica Jolly a few months ago.    Jolly's poem draws from an essay by Matthew Peppe in the Special Issue of Lapham's Quarterly about Alexander Hamilton and contrasts the character of the theatrical Hamilton with the behavior of the character who inspired him.  (This link to the blog "John's Space" offers additional background information.)  Thank you, Erica, for this moving use of numbers!

Daddy Yankee:     
       The Irony of ‘Hamilton’
       Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s 
       Advocacy for Puerto Rico
by Erica Jolly (December 2017)
             An essay by Matthew Peppe found in the Special Issue
             about Alexander Hamilton in Lapham’s Quarterly.

I draw in my breath in disbelief.
How does one take in all those numbers?
How is it possible for an island of this size
to have a debt of seventy six billion dollars?  

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Bits of Geometry -- from a "Phenomenal Woman"

     Today's Google Doodle beautifully reminds us that this day is the 90th anniversary of the birth of Dr Maya Angelou (1928-2014) -- and in the Doodle Angelou is celebrated with a recording of her poem, "Still I Rise."  A recording of "Still I Rise" also is available from a push-button within a recently erected bronze statue of Angelou, "Maya's Mind" by Mischell Riley -- on 17th Street in Washington, DC, through December 2018 and part of an exhibit sponsored by the Renwick Gallery.

"Maya's Mind" by Mischell Riley

The text of "Still I Rise" is available here at  As I noted in an earlier post, "Phenomenal Woman,"  Angelou's poetry is full of the generous geometry of womanhood -- here are a few lines from that poem:

        It's in the reach of my arms,
        The span of my hips,
        The stride of my step,
        The curl of my lips.
        I'm a woman

From Angelou's Phenomenal Woman:  Four Poems Celebrating Women (Random House, 1994).

Monday, April 2, 2018

Split This Rock Poetry Festival, April 19-21, 2018

For poems and poets that speak out FOR rights, AGAINST injustice, 
attend the biennial SPLIT THIS ROCK Poetry Festival!
Festival information is available here.  
Split This Rock maintains a hugs poetry database, available here.

One of this year's Festival's featured poets is Sharon Olds who was, a few years ago, my poetry teacher.  This link leads to an introduction to Olds and to a stanza from one of her poems that celebrates math-girls.   
. . .
indivisible as
a prime number
. . .

Friday, March 30, 2018

Celebrate life -- BILLIONS of heartbeats

     I've been thinking a lot about last weekend's March for Our Lives and now it is the Easter weekend -- and these events have led me also to think about  the heart and to reflect on this poem by Pennsylvania poet Gary Fincke entitled "The Billion Heartbeats of the Mammal."

The Billion Heartbeats of the Mammal     by Gary Fincke 

     Feel this," my father says, guiding my hand
     To the simple braille of his pacemaker.
     "Sixty," he tells me, "over and over
     Like a clock," and I mention the billion
     heartbeats of the mammal, how the lifespan
     Can be rough-guessed by the 800 beats
     Per minute of the shrew, the 200
     Of the house cat, speeding through their billion
     In three years, in twelve. How slowly we act,
     According to our pets. How we are stone   

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mathematical cycles of life

    After participating last Saturday in Washington, DC's "March for Our Lives" my head has been full of numbers related to gun violence.  Stepping away from those to other numbers, I have re-found and enjoyed this poem by Spanish poet Elena Soto

     The cicadas of mathematical cycles     by Elena Soto

     Sheltered by the prime numbers,
     the nymphs of the periodic cicadas
     descend to the underworld.
     Their cycles -- 
     only divisible by one and by themselves --
     avoid death.
     Magicicada septendecim and Magicicada tredecim
     enter the veil of the earth looking for tender plants.
     They gather for oblivion and life
     and thus conclude the circle of chaos.
     And the legend says that they never return
     because their blood becomes chlorophyll
     and they are forever subjected to
     the ancient cycle of plant constellations.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Happy Birthday -- Emmy Noether!

Born March 23, 1882. Amalie Emmy Noether (1882-1935) was an outstanding mathematician.  Three years ago GOOGLE celebrated her birthday.  At this link is a poem I wrote about her.  And for more about her and other math-women, go to this article in the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Skinny poetry -- 11 lines, most with just 1 word . . .

     Last weekend at a DC poetry gathering I had the opportunity to hear poet Truth Thomas speak about the "Skinny" -- a poetry form that he created at Howard University in 2005.  More about Thomas and The Skinny Poetry Journal may be found here.

            A Skinny is a short poem form that consists of eleven lines. 
            The first and eleventh lines can be any length (although shorter lines are favored). 
            The eleventh and last line must be repeated using the same words 
                     from the first and opening line (however, they can be rearranged). 
            The second, sixth, and tenth lines must be identical. 
            All the lines in this form, except for the first and last lines, must contain ONLY ONE word. 

Since learning of the Skinny, I've wanted to write one.  Here's a try:

               Math women count
               math women count

The Skinny Poetry Journal invites submissions.  More information here.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Math and poetry -- shout out the connection!

    Recently I came across a fun-to-read posting here in the blog "math for grownups" about connections between math and poetry -- blogger Laura Laing is a freelance writer who was a math major  (here is her personal webpage) and she offers strongly positive remarks about poetry and math and women and    . .
    Following the theme of positive connections, I offer a sample of work by Theoni Pappas, taken from a recently-republished collection math talk:  mathematical ideas in poems for two voices (Wide World Publishing, 2014).  Here are the opening lines of the first poem of the collection -- it is fittingly entitled "Mathematics."  

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Math-minorities -- stories needing to be shouted

     One of my favorite Facebook communities is Women in Maths -- a group energized by Susanne Pumpluen at the University of Nottingham and a site that consistently offers must-read items concerning math-women.  One of the important blogs on my reading list is the American Mathematical Society Blog, inclusion/exclusion -- a diverse group of bloggers, headed by Adriana Salerno that discuss issues pertaining to marginalized and underrepresented groups in mathematics.  A February posting by Piper Harron focuses attention on the question "What does it feel like not to belong?" -- treating exclusion issues with important frankness.  As someone who felt uncomfortable without speaking out about it, I admire Harron's expression of her views.

     For a poetic comment on this situation I turn to the final stanza of a poem of mine about Emmy Noether, a verse that illustrates the oft-repeated habit of praise that actually is a put-down. 

               Today, history books proclaim that Noether
               is the greatest mathematician
               her sex has produced. They say she was good
               for a woman. 

Readers interested in reading a bit more are invited to visit my 2017 article in the online Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, "They Say She Was Good for a Woman:  Poetry and Musings."

Monday, March 12, 2018

Celebrate Pi-Day with a message in Pilish

      As you may already know, when we write in Pilish, our word-lengths follow the pattern of the digits of pi.  For example, here is a link to posting from a couple of years ago that offers a poem in Pilish by Mike Keith.  Here is a small Pilish verse of my own:

Twenty-six words of Pilish . . .
Many thanks for the comment below from Seth and his students who caught
 my incorrect use of  a 7-letter word for the 8th digit in an earlier version of this posting.

Here is a link to a host of earlier postings in this blog about Pi.

And, for Pi-Day or any day . . ..a book I found online recently that looks like a great STEAM resource for K-12 teachers is Strategies that Integrate the Arts in Mathematics (Shell Education, 2015) by Linda Dacey and Lisa Donovan.  This listing enables viewers to look inside.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Philippa Fawcett -- Talented and Overlooked

 Celebrate MATH-WOMEN by writing POEMS about them! 

     I want to shout out a THANK YOU to Larry Riddle of Agnes Scott College for his website, "Biographies of Women Mathematicians" -- around two-hundred women are portrayed there.  One of these is Philippa Fawcett (1868-1946) in an article that opens with these words:

       Became, in 1890, the first woman to score the highest mark 
          of all the candidates for the Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge University. 
               Women at that time were not eligible for a Cambridge BA degree, however. 

A Wikipedia article quotes one of her students at Newnham College, Cambridge:

     “What I remember most vividly of Miss Fawcett's coaching was
          her concentration, speed, and infectious delight in what she was teaching ... ."   

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Linking mathematics to the rest . . .

Today my obtuse anger is rightly directed toward G. H. Hardy (1877-1947) and to the followers who have accepted his view --  in his 1940 treatise, A Mathematician's Apology -- that explaining and appreciating mathematics is work for second-rate minds.  Despite his worthy achievements in number theory and analysis and his nurturing of Ramanujan, Hardy's words should not stand forth and belittle those who teach and explain and forge connections between mathematics and all the rest.
     An wonderful and ongoing source of integration of mathematics with the arts is the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics -- and I invite you to go to the current issue and browse there OR go to this link for more than thirty pages of mathematical Haiku.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Looking back -- titles and links for previous posts

Scroll down to find titles and links to posts going back to this blog's start in March, 2010.  
If you are searching for a particular topic or poet, 
 use the SEARCH box in the maroon column to the right.

March is Women's History Month --  go here for one of many postings that celebrate MATH WOMEN !

Feb 28  Mathematical images via Haiku
Feb 26  Poetry from Ursula Le Guin
Feb 22  Circles are inclusive . . . let's make circles!
Feb 19  Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of ... Mathematics
Feb 15  Sonnet for Bolyai -- and translations
Feb 13  Happy Valentine's Day -- I love SEVEN!
Feb  9  A Matrix Poem, "RESIST"
Feb  7  Find a Mathy Valentine!
Feb  5  Math-poetry for Black History Month   

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Mathematical images via Haiku

         So many versions       
of the truth -- mathematics
        always one of them   

     The recent issue of  the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics includes not only a variety of poems linked to mathematics -- it also has a special treat:  a folder of Haiku -- 31 pages with contributions by 31 different writers.  One of these contributors is Hannah Lewis and she has given me permission to share her work.  Here are Hannah's Haiku:

     But, Why?

          x equals y, but—
          why? dig deeper and all your
          answers will unearth.     

Monday, February 26, 2018

Poetry from Ursula Le Guin

     Well-known and beloved writer Ursula Le Guin (1929-2018) died last month -- at the age of 88.  Although best known for her fiction, Le Guin also was a poet -- and I include samples of her poetic work (and links) below.
     An adaptation for the stage of Le Guin's novel, The Lathe of Heaven, is currently in performance (until March 11) at the Spooky Action Theater as part of Washington, DC's Women's Voices Theater Festival.  I had the privilege of attending last Saturday's performance -- and liked it a lot.
     Le Guin's poetry is not substantially mathematical, but I include a couple of verses below that each contain a mathy term or two . . .

A palindrome I do not want to write

The mournful palindromedary,
symmetrical and arbitrary,
cannot desert the desert, cannot roam,
plods back and forth but never reaches home.
Mental boustrophedon is scary,
I do not want to write a palindrome.
-- UKL, February 2009

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Circles are inclusive . . . let's make circles!

Rectangular picture of a syllable-triangle poem about the power of a circle.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of ... Mathematics

     One of my favorite mathy authors is Lillian R. Lieber (1886-1986) and one of the websites that has recently featured her work is the energetic and eclectic (authored by Maria Popova) -- in a posting recommended to me by my Bloomsburg, PA poetry-friend Carol Ann Heckman.  Carol alerted me to a January 2018 brainpickings posting about Lieber -- a writer whose poetic treatise, Infinity: Beyond the Beyond the Beyond (Paul Dry Books, 2007) is a reading I once recommended to her as an aid in understanding calculus.  Originally published in 1953 and illustrated with striking drawings by Lillian's collaborating husband, Hugh Lieber, Infinity also had enriched my own understanding of some challenging concepts.  The Heckman-recommended posting offers ideas from an out-of-print gem by Lieber entitled Human Values and Science, Art and Mathematics -- and here are a few opening lines from that collection that seem very relevant today:
     This book is really about
     Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness,
     using ideas from mathematics
     to make these concepts less vague.  

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Sonnet for Bolyai -- and translations

     The Hungarian mathematician János Bolyai (1802 – 1860) was one of the discoverers of non-Euclidean geometry — an axiomatization  that differs from Euclid's geometry in its stipulations concerning parallel lines. This discovery of  an alternative view of space -- that also was logically consistent -- helped to free mathematicians to explore new ideas, and the consequences developed by Einstein and others have led to far-reaching results.
     Hungarian poet Mihály Babits (1883-1941) wrote a sonnet about Bolyai.  I learned of this sonnet and its English translation (by Paul Sohar and offered below) from Osmo Pekonen, a Finnish mathematician who is engaged in the project of collecting translations of Babits' sonnet into as many languages as possible.  (The original Hungarian version -- along with a Spanish translation -- is available here.) 

     Bolyai      by Mihály Babits              translation into English by Paul Sohar

     God had imprisoned our minds in space.
     Those puny things have remained prisoners.
     Thought, the hungry bird of prey fought the curse,
     but never breached its diamond bars' embrace.  

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day -- I love SEVEN!

Happy Valentine's Day!
                     I love seven –  as  a 

     Not only is seven prime, it is the number
     of my granddaughters who all like math --
     I want to make a mountain to celebrate 
     the girls and the women they become . . .  

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Matrix Poem, "RESIST"

     My first awareness of the term "matrix" was in a math class -- where it means a rectangular array of quantities that are treated as a single unified object.  But my online dictionary does not list that definition first; a Google Search using "matrix definition" led me to "an environment or material in which something develops; a surrounding medium or structure."  And so it goes.
     And when I enter the pair "matrix" and "poem" into a Google Search, the results include poems with the word "matrix" in the title AND rectangular arrays including this one from  Eleven Matrix Poems by Roy Lisker and found at this source. Reading instruction includes this: 
       Matrix poems are written to be read in all of the directions 
indicated by their accompanying diagrams.
"RESIST" by Roy Lisker
My favorite line is shown as the second column; which is yours? 
Fight    Ever    Will To    Never    Evade
     In closing, one more remark about the Google Search I performed using "matrix poem"; as with many Google searches there was a link to images, and from that I found a delightful array of word-diagrams such as the one above.  Try it sometime!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Find a Mathy Valentine!

As the 2018 version of Valentine's Day draws near, I urge you to visit past postings to sample the variety contained in my years of collecting -- if you are looking for Mathy Valentines:

 do a blog Search using Valentine

      Two of the poems in the anthology that Sarah Glaz and I edited -- Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (AK Peters/CRC Press, 2008)  -- have the title "Valentine."  Here is the final line of the one by Katharine O'Brien:

         . . . won't you be my cardioid?

and the final pair of lines of Michael Stueben's verse:

       I love you as one over x,
       as x approaches zero.

Sending my wishes a week ahead of time, Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Math-poetry for Black History Month

     Recently I have revisited my post (from October 2, 2012) that offers a puzzle poem by math-science guy Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806), "The Puzzle of the Hound and the Hare" and available here.   
     This link leads to several more posts that also offer mathy poems linked to African-American history and culture.  And here, below, is a treasure to enjoy in any month:

     Addition     by Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

     7 x 7 + love =
     An amount
     Infinitely above:
     7 x 7 − love.

Hughes' poem "Addition" is found in the anthology Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics (AK Peters/CRC Press, 2008), edited by Sarah Glaz and me and first posted in this blog, along with other poems celebrating to Black History Month, on February 20, 2011.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Square poems -- pricked by a cactus!

     Back home now in Maryland after some time in Arizona (near Tucson) with cousins, my mind is full of the beauty and diversity of the cactuses that I saw there -- in yards and gardens and, most spectacularly, at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (BIG Thanks, Bob and Ann!)  My interest in these prickly plants led me to seek a poem that featured them.  What I found is a small "square poem" in my article "Mathematics in Poetry" -- published several years ago by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and available here.  Below, I quote that tiny square poem -- preceded by an explanatory introduction.

Mathematicians enjoy pushing against constraints to find what is possible despite their presence; I enjoy a similar struggle in poetry. For example, when I wanted to write about my decision to be polite even though somewhere inside I feel very uncivil, the constraints of a 3 × 3 square poem led me to:

Mock feelings
serve as well
as true ones.  

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

50 years after "The Population Bomb"

          In 1968 while I was in graduate school at the University of Oklahoma, we all were talking about Paul Erlich's new book, The Population Bomb, and its dire predictions.  My worry over population has evolved into worry about climate change -- a deep concern that selfish actions today are leaving an unhealthy world for future generations.  I want my grandchildren to have the opportunity for healthy lives!!!   On the morning of January 3,  the program 1A on  radio station WAMU did a thought-provoking feature, "More People, More Problems"  on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Erlich's book.  And, at a website entitled "Better (not bigger) Vermont"  I found several poems and songs about population, including the "Population Pressure Song" by Calvin Stewart & Joice Marie -- I offer several stanzas below:

from  Population Pressure Song   by Calvin Stewart & Joice Marie (©2008)
     . . .
        Pop pop, goes the population
        Got to stop, the population
        While we still have our woods
        In our quiet neighborhoods