Shaping Poems -- with Visual Forms and Counting

JoAnne Growney
Proceedings of Bridges 2017: Mathematics, Art, Music, Architecture, Education, Culture
Pages 471–474 Short Papers


Since books and computer screens enable poetry to be accessible without memorization – not so in the early days of verse – rhyme, a memory aid, is no longer necessary. Furthermore, visual accessibility means that word patterns may rely on the eyes as well as the ears to achieve recognition as poetry. Herein, we examine shaped structures such as the square stanza, the snowball, and the Fib and consider their adaptability to a variety of poetic situations. It should be observed that format constraints in poetry -- constraints as basic as counting syllables -- may lead a writer to unexpected arrangements of words and a richness of meanings that had not been available without them. The article ends with a nod to the Bridges Archives and the rich selection of articles that feature poetry – and offers additional links for those who would explore math-poetry similarities.