I’ve been searching for references to Eavan Boland’s poem “Code” as research for an upcoming project, and I ran across a fellow poet who likes math as a stimulus for poetry. JoAnne Growney’s blog, Intersections — Poetry With Mathematics — is full of very cool stuff. She’s got math, she’s got computer code, she’s got international politics and frogs. Check it out!
The poem I was searching for, “Code,” is posted and discussed here on Growney’s blog. You can read more of Boland’s poems and biographical information at the Poetry Foundation.
This poem, published in the US in 2001 in a book titled Against Love Poetry, was published in the UK first, where the collection was titled Code. This article from the New York Times review of the book, explains how Boland:
“adds another dimension to her literary persona, showing herself to be a poet not only of feminism and Ireland, but one interested in making sense of the way the abstractions of time and space play themselves out in human relations.
The most succinct, lingering expression of this interest comes in a poem called ”Code,” an ode to ”Grace Murray Hopper 1906-88, maker of a computer compiler and verifier of COBOL.” In it, Boland envisions Hopper writing code at her desk in New Hampshire and tries to connect with her over distance and generations: ”You are west of me and in the past,” she writes. In these few simple words, Boland transforms the past from a place that is long gone to a place that we can travel into, just as in any other direction; then she goes there with great effect.”
Are you interested in code poetry or poetry about math? Stay tuned!
(Photo of Eavan Boland from an unattributed website. Photo of Grace Murray Hopper from Wikipedia, cited from the Smithsonian.)
6 thoughts on “A Code Poet Connection”
What an extraordinary poem! Thanks for posting.
Did you know that Grace Hopper first popularized the term “bug” when a moth was found stuck in a relay? You can see the actual bug here:
Thanks, John! For some reason the photo’s not showing up unless I click on the scribbly icon. But it’s a great photo. Thanks for sharing!
Even though I am a mathophobe, I am delighted to learn of JoAnne Growney’s blog…oddly, I think I’ve regarded poetry as being the opposite of math! Well now they’ve merged. Thanks, I’ll have to re-calculate.
Yeah for poetry’s power to get you to examine your assumptions. Let me know if your recalculations result in any poems!
Weren’t we just talking about this? Today’s NPR story is right on point.
Admiral Grace Hopper, had no = in the world!
Only a Woman could make a machine talk!