Click Image to Visit the Pecan Grove Press Web Page for Poetry from Paradise Valley


Poetry From Paradise Valley

Pecan Grove Press has released an anthology of poems, a sampling of works published in Valparaiso Poetry Review during its first decade, from the original 1999-2000 volume to the 2009-2010 volume.

Poetry from Paradise Valley includes a stellar roster of 50 poets. Among the contributors are a former Poet Laureate of the United States, a winner of the Griffin International Prize, two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Book Award winners, two National Book Critics Circle winners, six finalists for the National Book Award, four finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and a few dozen recipients of other honors, such as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, etc.

Readers are encouraged to visit the Poetry from Paradise Valley page at the publisher's web site, where ordering information about the book can be found.

Best Books of Indiana 2011: Finalist. Judges' Citation: "Poetry from Paradise Valley is an excellent anthology that features world-class poetry, including the work of many artists from the Midwest, such as Jared Carter, Annie Finch, David Baker, and Allison Joseph. It’s an eclectic and always interesting collection where poems on similar themes flow into each other. It showcases the highest caliber of U. S. poetry."
—Indiana Center for the Book, Indiana State Library

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pi Day: Lee Slonimsky's "Pythagoras Goes to Work"

On this date (3/14) recognized as Pi Day by enthusiasts of mathematical figures, I offer the above song about pi by Kate Bush (in which she apparently errs, one reader has informed me in the past) and a poem below, “Pythagoras Goes to Work” by Lee Slonimsky that references pi, which first appeared in the Fall/Winter 2005-2006 issue (Volume VII, Number 1) of Valparaiso Poetry Review. As I mentioned in an article, “Pi Day and the Nobel Prize Poet,” posted at “One Poet’s Notes” on the last Pi Day in 2008 (which also included commentary and a poem titled “Pi,” written by Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska, the 1996 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature):

For fans of numerical information or the history of mathematical discoveries, March 14 represents a day of celebration. Since the date may be written as 3-14, the digits correspond with 3.14, the opening series of digits associated with “pi.” (The pi moment during the day is at 1:59:26, more fully reflecting the start of pi: 3.1415926.) This irrational number—one that never can be stated exactly because its decimal sequence continues to infinity—always has amazed mathematicians and held a primary position of curiosity for many non-mathematicians.

Perhaps the best known and most fascinating of figures for those concerned with calculations, pi has been a center of attention for centuries. Indeed, the computation for pi is implied in a passage of the Old Testament. Its exact determination has been a riddle for all civilizations, including the Babylonians, the Egyptians, and the Greeks of ancient eras. Not until the sixteenth century were European scholars able to compute pi to as many as a couple dozen decimal places.

In fact, only in recent decades has pi been calculated with great precision, as the mid-twentieth century invention of computers took over for humans, at first figuring pi to thousands of digits. By the 1980s calculations of pi extended to hundreds of thousands of digits. Now, super computers have stretched the stated sequence of known digits to millions, then to billions, and on to more than a trillion decimal places. Beyond serving as a source of trivia and fascination, pi has contributed greatly to solving a profusion of previously puzzling problems in mathematics and science, enabling the contemporary understanding of many various scientific equations, including those explaining the DNA double helix.

In her poem, Wislawa Szymborska remarks about her fascination with the figure: “The caravan of digits that is pi / does not stop at the edge of the page, / but runs off the table and into the air, / over the wall, a leaf, a bird’s nest, the clouds, straight into the sky, / through all the bloatedness and bottomlessness.”

Lee Slonimsky’s collections of poetry include Talk Between Leaf and Skin (SRLR Press, 2002), Pythagoras in Love (Orchises Press, 2007), and the forthcoming Logician of the Wind, also from Orchises Press. Pythagoras in Love contains an extended sequence of sonnets—such as “Pythagoras Goes to Work,” the piece that first appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review—on the life of the famous Greek mathematician and philosopher from the sixth century BC. Slonimsky’s poetry has been published in various periodicals, including Asheville Poetry Review, Blue Unicorn, Carolina Quarterly, Cold Mountain Review, Connecticut Review, Denver Post, Iambs & Trochees, The Lyric, The New York Times, and Poetry Daily.


Triangulate the sun’s ascent. Two oaks
the baseline on this steel-chill winter’s day.
Diversion, suddenly now, in the way
a hawk bisects low triangle of sky
as if she lectures on geometry
to clouds that hover close. The more he looks
the more he calculates a feathered Pi
that multiplied by gold reveals the light
the hawk explains in her wind-scything flight
to audience of fluff and haze. But soon,
no warning, hawk dives for its prey below,
a transitory scholar only; now
a blur of angling talons, wings; that’s how
the mind is ruled by blood. The dawn’s lesson.

—Lee Slonimsky

As both a poet and a stock market advisor or investor, Lee Slonimsky seems to share with Pythagoras the importance in understanding how numbers and mathematical patterns are integrated into the natural world. Describing Slonimsky in an interesting profile of the poet readers are urged to examine, Bloomberg, the business publication, reported: “Walt Whitman, Pythagoras and famed stock trader Jesse Livermore have all influenced Lee Slonimsky's dual life as a hedge-fund manager and poet.”


Tor Hershman said...

Considering Pythagoras’ erroneous belief, concerning a soul, I’ll offer this wee number.....

Anonymous said...

I'm quite interested in this essay, Ed, since I've been working on collaborations between a group of poets and painters up here in Toronto. Last year we produced a book, Resonance, with poems beside the paintings they responded to, and did a reading and exhibition with the poetry beside the visual works; this year, we're repeating the reading and exhibition but doing a DVD.
Since both arts make considerable use of symbol and intuition, it's not surprising so many find these correspondences.
-- John Oughton

Maggie May said...

i think it's fascinating that there is pi, literally, in your eye.

James said...

I hope you have enjoyed this year PI day very much. But i am very unhappy because i could not enjoy this year PI day that much like previous year.