Coon/Birken Photo

Discovering Patterns in Mathematics and Poetry



Book Cover

Published February 2008 and available through the publisher, Editions Rodopi, New York and Amsterdam, as well as on and Barnes&



In their first co-authored book, Marcia Birken and Anne C. Coon explore the intersecting patterns of mathematics and poetry, bringing the two fields together in new ways. Setting the tone with humor and illustrating each chapter with countless examples, Birken and Coon begin with patterns we can see, hear, and feel and then move to more complex patterns. Number systems and nursery rhymes lead to the Golden Mean and sestinas. Simple patterns of shape introduce tessellations and concrete poetry. Fractal geometry makes fractal poetry possible. Ultimately, patterns for the mind lead to questions: How do mathematicians and poets conceive of proof, paradox, and infinity? What role does analogy play in mathematical discovery and poetic expression? The book will be of special interest to readers who enjoy looking for connections across traditional disciplinary boundaries. Discovering Patterns in Mathematics and Poetry features centuries of creative work by mathematicians, poets, and artists, including Fibonacci, Albrecht Dürer, M. C. Escher, David Hilbert, Benoit Mandelbrot, William Shakespeare, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Langston Hughes, E.E. Cummings, and many contemporary experimental poets. Original illustrations by the authors include digital photographs, mathematical and poetic models, and fractal imagery.

Cover image by Marcia Birken, copyright 2009 by M. Birken, ciaPhoto



  • University News, Rochester Institute of Technology, April 24, 2008
  • Democrat and Chronicle Newspaper, Rochester, NY, June 2008
  • Television Interview - R News - Channel 9, Rochester, NY, June 2008
  • MathDL - MAA Mathematical Sciences Digital Library, May 8, 2008
  • Her Rochester, June 2008
  • UB Today - Publication of the University of Buffalo Alumni Association, Fall 2008
  • Mount Holyoke College Alumnae Quarterly - Fall, 2008
  • Wild Poetry Forum, May 23, 2008



        Copyright Marcia Birken and Anne C. Coon, 2009 ©
Rochester, NY