These are some delineations of "types" of mathematical poems that I have constructed from my experiences through my survey of mathematical poetry and mathematical poets. While it is true that I am writing these delineations they are not necessarily based on my personal beliefs they are based on what I have gathered from others who claim to be mathematical poets. Personally I have problems with some of these ideas and I may or may not address my objections later. However, I think it is important to draw some lines in the sand for discussion. Obviously these lines may move through further discussion and I can imagine that this page will be edited in the future.
I might add that numerous mathematical poems that I have experienced have facets or elements that extend into more than one of these types. In other words, very few "Mathematical Poems" can be described by just one category.
2.)“Mathematical Visual Poetry”
4.)“Visual Mathematical Poetry”
5.)“Pure Maths Poetry” which encompasses ”Number Poetry”
1.)‘Mathematics Poems’ are lexical poems that are influenced by the field of mathematics - There are many examples of these on the internet. This type of poem is the most lexical yet the least like “Pure Mathematics” in the sense of performing mathematical operations on the elements in the visual field. JoAnne Growney seems to be the biggest supporter of these types of poems on found on the internet.
Here is her blog
2.)“Mathematical Visual poetry” uses words and images mixed with/and/or mathematical symbols into a visual field. The mathematical symbols may or may not follow the rules for the formal language of mathematics. This type is much more open and encompasses everything between visual poetry and equational poetry. Because of the wide range of intent it is difficult to place a work on a scale between lexical poetry and pure mathematics However, I believe that if it is more toward visual poetry then it is less like pure mathematics and if it is more like equational poetry then it functions closer to pure mathematics. Or should I say it follows the rules of pure mathematics. Examples of mathematical visual poetry would be in the body of work from Karl Kempton, Scott Helmes, Pi.O. and Bob Grumman
3.)“Equational Poetry” is more rigid than “Mathematical Visual Poetry” in its use of mathematical elements. The rules of mathematics are explicitly used within the structure of the mathematical poem. The explicit use of mathematical rules is what separates “Equational Poetry” from “Mathematical Visual Poetry”. Within the equations words serve as metaphors as well as nested metaphors (metaphors inside metaphors) An example of this type of work would be the mathematical poems at this link. Also Bob Grumman approaches his work with elements of equational poetry and I must also mention the work of Craig Damrauer, which also falls into this catagory. If there are no words in the equation then it is not equational poetry
4.)“Visual Mathematical Poetry” follows the rules of mathematics the same as ‘Equational Poetry’ however the terms for the mathematical poem are purely visual as opposed to textual. In other words the metaphors are visual as opposed to lexical, yet, in essence they function mechanically the same.
5.) “Pure Maths Poetry” is the viewpoint that pure mathematical statements are a poetic expression. What
separates Pure Maths Poetry from the other types is that there are no words/lexical statement. Relative to all types of mathematical poetry “Pure Math Poetry” is the least like “Lexical Poetry.”
Number Poem is a visual formation of numbers who have a verifiable mathematical relationship to each other. The main poetic element in number poems is rhythm or pattern and can be seen by repetitions of certain numbers or operations. Number poems function correctly only when the rules of mathematics are observed. Richard Kostelanetz work from the 1970’s serves as one example of these poems yet, Magic squares and Yang Hui’s Triangle would be examples that are hundreds of years old. Number poems Number Poetry would be a subset of pure math poetry.
Toni Prat also does number poems, however, where Koselanetz focused on mathematical beauty, Prat focuses on paradox which some say is the crux of mathematical metaphor.