It is with deep sadness that I must report the passing of Bob Grumman. The world of mathematical poetry just got lonelier. I remember in the mid 1990’s getting an email from Bob expressing how happy he was to have found me, another mathematical poet who shared a similar vision to his. Furthermore I was happy to have learned of his existence as well. Until then I had thought that I was the only one doing it. I was happy to find out that others had some interest in it as well. First of all I have to say that other than myself, there is no other mathematical poet in the English language that has had as much passion for our brand of mathematical poetry. – Yes there have been others who dabbled here and there and made a handful of math poems – and I must mention Karl Kempton and Scott Helmes who have made serious contributions to mathematical visual poetry, but only Bob and I consistently expressed a passion for using mathematical equations as a structure for poetic expression. Bob seemed to be entertained by arguing with people about the validity of mathematical poetry BEING poetry. Personally, I have tried to avoid that particular argument and have been happy believing that mathematical poetry is its own genre and needs not to be called poetry. Yet it really makes no difference to me. I must also mention that while Bob and I both took ownership in this form of expression, we had many differences of opinion … sometimes our differences were painful and I felt as though I was stuck in the land of mathematical poetry (a deserted island) with a hard headed competitively driven egomaniac. It is true that in the past I have felt this way. - But now that the reality has hit that he is gone, I feel alone on this Island – and it saddens me. The worst part for the muse of mathematical poetry is that neither of us has inspired anyone else to do it. She had better find another one to do it - obviously neither Bob nor I have done a good job in spreading the word. (not that we haven’t tried) – It’s been over 200 years since the first mathematical poem that I know of was published and the genre lay dormant for all those years until the 1970’s before it sprouted up again. Bob has been integral in trying to keep mathematical poetry alive in this incarnation. He will truly be missed.
Kaz Maslanka 04-03-2015