How to Celebrate Math Poetry Month

April is the intersection of Math Awareness Month and National Poetry Month, so obviously we are all celebrating Math Poetry Month. Some of my favorite posts on Roots of Unity have been about poetry. This year, I posted “In Praise of Fractals” by Emily Grosholz. Last year, I shared Sandra Beasley’s poem “Unit of Measure,” in which all is measured by the standard of the capybara. And the year before, I wrote about Sandra DeLozier Coleman’s poem “Group: n. collection, set, assembly.

Christine Rueter, who writes the astropoetry blog Tychogirl (featured here last November), is celebrating National Poetry Month by writing a poem a day. I’m partial to “The LM (after Blake)” and “color leaked in,” which was based on the first color images of Pluto and Ceres from the New Horizons spacecraft.

color leaked in by Christine Rueter.

Image: Christine Rueter.

I’ve written previously about JoAnne Growney’s blog, Intersections–Poetry with Mathematics, but it is still my favorite math poetry source and a great place to visit this April. If you live in the DC area, you can even see Growney at a poetry reading tonight (if it’s still April 20 when you read this)!

Earlier this month, Growney shared a link to an interview with Enriqueta Carrington at the Art Works blog. Carrington is a mathematician at Rutgers and a poet in both Spanish and English. She currently has an NEA translation fellowship to support her work translating the work of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a 17th-century poet from New Spain (now Mexico). In the interview, Carrington talks about how mathematics and poetry are linked for her and about the challenges of translation.

The other math poetry blog I have in my feed, appropriately named Mathematical Poetry, is by Kaz Maslanka. He primarily creates and shares visual poetry that uses mathematical symbols to express relationships between ideas. Two common types of these poems are orthogonal space poems and congruent triangle or proportional poems, where a fairly simple equation expressing proportion can be interpreted in several subtly different ways. (There is a whole blog devoted to proportional poetry here.) I also recommend his post about various types of mathematical poetry. In addition to his own poetry, he shares works by other visual mathematical poets. While I am more comfortable with verbal poetry, it’s interesting to see the way words, pictures, and mathematical symbols flow together in these works. Maslanka’s most recent posts share the sad news of the passing of Bob Grumman, another visual mathematical poet who wrote a series called M@h*(pOet)?ica for Scientific American a few years ago.

Do you have a favorite poem or poet inspired by math?

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3 Responses to How to Celebrate Math Poetry Month

  1. JoAnne Growney says:

    Thanks, Evelyn, for your math-poetry postings and for your links to my blog.

  2. JoAnne Growney says:

    Just found a poem that I want to share — in the recent issue of Talking-Writing (one of whose editors (Carol Dorf) is both a math teacher and a poet), this prose poem by Nicole Callihan, “How to Imagine a Fractal.” At

  3. Jim Grotkowski says:

    think mathematics
    at first we find the digital
    even when we fill in between
    there is always another middle
    at second we find the continuity
    thanks to all that calculus except for by-parts
    then we start bending space and being space
    think mathematics
    at third we are mathematics

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