Today is Poet’s Day, a day to celebrate the sensitive souls who, through the ages, shared their deepest thoughts through verse and rhyme. I have to admit to being more of a ‘prose person’ than a ‘poetry person’, but that by no means implies that I don’t have the greatest respect and admiration for a good poem – it’s simply not my very favourite literary form.

Of course there’s a close relation between poetry and mathematics – a subject that is close to my heart. It was Einstein who said: “Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.”

Mathematics in general seem to play an important role in poetry. Not only is there mathematics in the structure and rhythm of poetry, but many poems have also been written that contain overt mathematical themes. In a 2010 article entitled Poetry Inspired by Mathematics, Sara Glaz from the University of Connecticut, discusses some examples of such poems. More examples can be found in an earlier article from 2006 by JoAnne Growney, Mathematics in Poetry. In the latter article, Growney elegantly states, “As mathematicians smile with delight at an elegant proof, others may be enchanted by the grace of a poem. An idea or an image expressed in just the right language–so that it could not be said better–is a treasure to which readers return.”

The wonderful Fibonacci number sequence not only pops out in nature, but now claims its place in the world of the poet as well.
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An interesting new poetic form which I’ve discovered while doing some background reading for today, is the so-called “Fibonacci poetry”, which is based on the Fibonacci number sequence. Fibonacci numbers are a sequence, starting with 0 and 1, where each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two, i.e. 0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,…

Fibonacci numbers occur often in nature, as I’ve discussed in an earlier blog post.

In poetry, the number sequence can refer to the numbers of letters, syllables or words in successive lines of the poem. These poems, known as ‘Fibs’, are six lines long, typically starting with a single letter/syllable/word in the first line. They can, however, theoretically start with any number of letters/syllables/words in the Fibonacci sequence.

Even though this form, originally introduced by Gregory K in a blog post on the GottaBook blog, appears to still be more popular among mathematicians than among poets, it has managed to garner a mention in the New York Times Books section. Their example, based on syllables, neatly illustrate the concept:

Blogs 
spread 
gossip 
and rumor 
But how about a 
Rare, geeky form of poetry?

I like the idea, I really do – very cool indeed! So, without further ado, herewith my own humble Fib for the day:

Words
and
numbers
sequences
not just in nature
but warming the hearts of poets too.

(uhm, assuming ‘poets’ is a single syllable word, of course…)

Happy Poet’s Day, everyone!  And please do share some Fibs, if you’re that way inclined!

76 Comments

  1. One of my friends uses first part of the Fibonacci sequence for his PIN! haha love the post, did not know about the poetry aspect! Congrats on FP!

  2. During National Poetry Writing Month last April, I actually favored this style of poetry. As a mathematics major, I have always loved the Fibonacci Sequence (it is my favorite sequence of numbers after all). I often found myself going to 13 syllables which made for some pretty interesting poems. Sometimes I found myself going to 8 or 13 syllables and then following the pattern backwards back down to one. (I always start with one because, let’s face it, having a zero syllable line would confuse a lot of people. I imagine it would contain at least one ellipsis, though.) This was one of my favorites that followed the pattern, it was written after a discussion with my aunt about my mother as she grew up: http://notesfromthebackseat.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/napowrimo-poem-8/

    1. Wonderful!! I really enjoyed reading that.

      I got into writing Fibonacci poems a few years ago and also went to 13 and even 21 syllables and then back down again. I love the shape that creates, but 21 syllables usually require a line break, which ruins the shape. After several of these, I came up with this (but didn’t go from 8 to 1):

      too
      long
      too long
      twenty-one
      like the tv show
      in such a form, eight is enough.

      1. That’s a fun poem. I love the way the poems look in this format and it forces you to really pay attention to your words and choose them more carefully. I generally don’t go past eight syllables, but have some that go out and then come back and go back out again.

    2. Thanks for the comment. The idea of extending the form to return down the Fibonacci sequence is a great one! And your poem is really special – irrespective of the form.

  3. Thanks for writing about Fibonacci poems! I started writing them a few years ago. I love it because I find it helpful to have structure, and if you start with 1 and go up as far as you like, then back down again, it makes a pretty hyperbolic curve.

    Congratulations on being FP! I enjoy your site.

  4. We’ve been having fun with this, Gerry. Came up with

    0
    Is
    Not
    A number
    Yet is infinite
    An endless gap of nothingness
    In perfect symmetry lodged between
    Plus one and
    Minus one
    Balancing
    To
    0

  5. A realy beautiful article. I believe that Maths are related to Poetry, if we take for example that all the great mathematicians or scientists had knowledge of poetry and sometimes they wrote as well.

  6. Haha that’s awesome. I’m a poet majoring in mathematics who loves Einstein. I rarely go on wordpress and this is my first time actually viewing different things on this website, look what I come across. It’s funny catching up to fate.

  7. I love working with this form of poetry.

    Words
    Math
    Matter
    Connected
    Invisible threads
    Wrapped in and through the universe
    My heart bound by its hum – we forever sing as one

    Great post! Thank you for the early morning inspiration. It’s going to be a good day!

  8. I often have writing and photography competitions on my blog…I was so inspired by your blog that I think this may be the form of the next one. Love this and the responses!

  9. Awesome! ! Awesome!! 😀
    I was like this is the post I’m looking for…Thanks mate..! 😀
    And Wish you the same uh! 😀
    Me too a poet.! So enjoyed a bit more..! 😀
    Cheers mate!! 😀

  10. wow i love this so much! i’m an english major (but definitely not a poet, so i won’t even attempt this) and this is weirdly the first time i’m hearing about fibonacci poetry! really wonderful concept, thanks so much for sharing!!! x

  11. Well Done! You have been awarded a Grade 3 BlOgcean Award from us! Your one of a group of the first ever to get this award, so we would be grateful if you could spread the word! If you want to know more about us and your award go to: http://blogceanawards.wordpress.com/
    Keep posting on your great blog! And go on our Blog to nominate someone else’s blog too if you feel like it!

      1. Your welcome. His stuff is amazing. If you happen to like it I can hand you pandora’s box…. for you to open at your leisure.

        Feel free to check out my musings, as I touch on the very base of that and branch out into other esoteric understandings from food ‘signature’s’ (signs of nature) to psychological discourses… a whole wide gambit of topics.

        Namaste zenalchemist.wordpress.com

  12. This is an excellent post. People often see math and science as being completely separate from the arts (especially my friends in college who were usually majoring in one or the other), but they’ve always influenced one another like with classical art and the golden mean. I’m going to have to try my hand at Fibonacci poetry when I go home.

  13. Excellent display of mathematical poetry, not to mention, very creative thinking. Thank you for sharing. Congratulations for your “Freshly Press.”

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