Math Poetry

Poetry is about as ancient as mathematics in human culture. Its language can be whimsical, somber, joyful, beautiful, concise, thought-provoking, and inspirational. We invite you to think and write about mathematics in this unique form of expression. Poems can be limericks, sonnets, haiku, acrostic, square stanzas (such as the one below by JoAnne Growney in which the number of syllables per line equals the number of lines), based on the Fibonacci sequence (with the number of syllables per line based on the sequence), or other type. Imagine and express!

Below the poster with awarded poems are rules and procedures for the 2020 contest, results of the 2019 contest, and math and poetry resources.

Math and poetry poster

 

2020 American Mathematical Society Math Poetry Contest

This fall the AMS is conducting a contest for Colorado middle school, high school, and undergraduate students in connection with the 2020 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Denver.

Rules and Eligibility::

  • Work submitted must be your own work.
  • One entry per person--no multiple entries allowed.
  • You must be a student in a Colorado middle school or high school, or an undergraduate student at a Colorado college or university. Homeschool students of middle school or high school are are also eligible.
  • Poems must be 20 lines or less (title and spaces between stanzas do not count). Only poems written in the English language can be judged. Foreign phrases are acceptable only with a translation provided.
  • If emailing your submission make sure your file is either a pdf or a Microsoft Word document, named: AMS-[your first name-last name].
  • Deadline: Poems must be received no later than November 12.
  • No entry fee; it’s 100% free!

Judging: Entries will be judged on originality, poetic quality, and thoughtful use of mathematical imagery by a panel of three judges: JoAnne Growney, Gizem Karaali, and Larry Lesser. They compiled a list of resources for more exploration below. Date of announcement of winners: Dec. 12.

Rights: The AMS will retain no ownership rights to your poetry. Such rights remain with the poet at all times.

Winners must agree to:

  • be present on Saturday afternoon, January 18 at the Joint Mathematics Meetings (Colorado Convention Center)
  • be photographed (his or her photo may appear on AMS social media, ams.org, possible Notices of the AMS, or the Joint Mathematics Meeting Blog)
  • read--or pick someone else to read--their poem (on Saturday, Jan. 18 at the JMM)--note: if you can't designate someone to read your poem, we will find someone who will attend and read your winning poem

To enter the contest, complete the online information form and either

  • email it along with your poem to paoffice at ams dot org or
  • send the form and your poem via US Post Office to:

AMS Poetry Contest
c/o AMS Public Awareness Office
201 Charles Ave.
Providence, RI 02904.

OK. Start composing and good luck!

Poem by JoAnne Growney

 

 

2019 Contest

Brooke C. Johnston, Tina Xia, Kelin Torres-Rodas, and JoAnne GrowneyThe three winning poets: Brooke C. Johnston, Tina Xia, and Kelin Torres-Rodas, with one of the poetry contest judges, JoAnne Growney. The three poems are linked to below.

 

Here's a video of Kelin, Tina, and Brooke reading their winning poems. They're introduced by JoAnne Growney.

 

The three winning poems in the 2019 AMS Math Poetry Contest are:

Congratulations to all three!

Resources for exploring math and poetry:

Intersections--Poetry with Mathematics blog: 

• Each issue of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics or The Mathematical Intelligencer

S. Buchanan, Poetry and Mathematics, J.B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, 1962.

• E. Robson & J. Wimp (eds.), Against Infinity: an Anthology of Contemporary Mathematical Poetry, Primary Press, Parker Ford, PA, 1979.

• Proceedings from the annual Bridges conference (1998-)

• J. Growney (ed.), Numbers and Faces, HMN, 2001.

• S. Glaz & J. Growney (eds.), Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics, CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL, 2008.