Mathematics and poetry are often thought of as polar opposites: one the realm of rational and logical thought, the other of the expressive and subjective. The Maths Poems project seeks to break down this division and to explore what the two disciplines have in common and how they can influence, inform and enhance each other.
What is a maths poem? Well, it turns out that a lot of poetry is mathematical and a lot of maths is beautiful and poetic. Mathematics and poetry are often thought of as polar opposites: one the realm of rational and logical thought, the other of the expressive and subjective. Maths Poems is an exploration of what happens when you bring together two completely different disciplines to collaborate.
In the Spring of 2019 Small Press and the University of Bristol hosted a series of workshops to see whether it was possible to write a ‘maths poem’. The workshops brought together mathematicians and poets at the top of their fields to explore the possibility of expressing poetic concepts in mathematical language, and vice versa.
They were interested in exploring the similarities of the two fields of study without prioritising one over the other: sincerely engaging with and working collaboratively alongside practitioners with very different ways of working. The maths poets (or poeticians) found they had very obvious differences, including perspectives on language, but in many cases these differences came to expand and augment their own understanding and/or practice.