Joel Chace


Building Maths

I have become increasingly intrigued by the languages of advanced, creative mathematics and of physics. In previous years, certain of my poems have briefly referenced potential connections between these languages and that of poetry.

Early in 2020 — in spite of or perhaps even because of the year’s darknesses and damages —​ I decided to address such connections more intentionally.

In the individual pieces that comprise this new, ongoing sequence entitled Maths, the method I settled upon is to begin each page with a poetic text, almost exclusively my original writing. I then add to this by interfacing it with complementary mathematical commentary, including equations in my own handwriting, culled from various sources. My hope is that these complements connect appropriately, but not too simplistically, to the poetry. I attempt to arrange these mathematical components in a way that is visually complex and aesthetically pleasing. Finally, before scanning, I include whisks of pen strokes between mathematical texts and equations.

Near the beginning of the whole process, I realized the advantage of confining each piece to no more than a single page, in order to assure, as much as possible, visual unity.

Excerpts are from Fernando Zalamea, Synthetic Philosophy of Contemporary Mathematics, trans. Z.L. Fraser (Falmouth/New York: Urbanomic/Sequence Press, 2012). Copyright © Sequence Press.

Used by permission of the author and publisher.

Joel Chace has published work in print and electronic magazines such as E∙ratio, Otoliths, Word For/Word, and Golden Handcuffs Review. Most recent collections include Scorpions, from Unlikely Books, Humors, from Paloma Press, and Threnodies, from Moria Books.
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