The Intersection Between Math and Poetry | Mallika Vasak's image
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The Intersection Between Math and Poetry | Mallika Vasak

April is designated National Poetry Month and Mathematics and Statistics Awareness Month. Aware of their intersection, science writer Stephen Ornes named April “Math Poetry Month”. The two disciplines may seem dichotomous, so I wanted to illuminate their interrelation for those unaware of it.

I’ve found JoAnne Growney’s blog Intersections — Poetry with Mathematics is an excellent framework to augment your understanding of the math-poetics junction. It features both poems that use mathematical language to enrich their imagery and poems that are structured by mathematical concepts, many of which are written by mathematicians. All of the poems she includes in her blog are effective in highlighting how math can enhance poetry.

“Number Theory” by scientist-poet Mary Peelen emphasizes how mathematics underlies all facets of life:

Forty one apples in the tree,

red and round,

Praise awaiting gravity,

wholly free of abstraction.

When it comes to the primes and matters of religion,

I defer to Pythagoras,

his ancient cult and authority.

— from “Number Theory” by Mary Peelen


Growney also features poems that structured by mathematical concepts, such as “Though I survived the winter…” by mathematician Mike Keith. Keith writes in Pilish, a language in which the words used have lengths that align with the digits of Pi:

Growney’s motto written at the top of her blog reads, “Mathematical language can heighten the imagery of a poem; mathematical structure can deepen its effect”. In poems such as “Number Theory”, mathematical terms are use

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