My first published poem, An Uncareful Mathematician Would Always Mistake This For Love, up today at Hobart, is actually near-total thievery. It’s found poetry, from a calculus and analytical geometry textbook circa 1992.
Too small a harvest, and you starve;
too large, and you destroy
and you starve
1. Get a feel
The most important step is
To become skillful
I originally titled it Derivative, because stealing, because meta, and because that’s the name of the chapter that this was all taken from, in order, start-to-finish/each grouping on a line in the poem actually had those words next to each other. Math is wild. 90s math word problems are even wilder.
is the telescope
is the jet
(the woman must change)
And I originally wrote this as a dare on Twitter. Aaron Burch tweeted saying something like, “pretty into math. more math poems,” so I was like “ha ha! I’ll go write math erasure poetry brb.”
And then did. On the Hobart poetry submission guidelines, which I pretty much ignored except to steal (there’s a theme here) a line for my cover letter, they have the suggestion: “we’re interested in poetry that doesn’t necessarily know it’s poetry: work that the uncareful reader might mistake for prose,” and in my (whiskey-fueled) cover letter, I told them, “no reader is going to mistake this for prose, but an uncareful mathematician would always mistake this for love.” And thus, a title was born.
The basic idea is this.
Say that you know
to the floor
Where will you be?
I’ve never thought of myself a poet, and I still think I’d rather call myself someone who has feelings when she reads math and science books.