When I put together my page-a-day calendar, published by the American Mathematical Society (why, yes, it is still available; thanks for asking), I knew I wanted to include a healthy dose of poetry. I love seeing poets and mathematicians play with mathematical ideas in settings that are not governed by the rules of theorem-proving. When I was poking around for poems that would work well for the calendar format, I was struck by this poem by University of Connecticut mathematician Sarah Glaz. I used it for the January 13 page, naturally enough.

13 January 2009

12=2^{2}×3 Anuk is dying for Anuk is dying in the white of winter
11 The coldest month
10=2×5 Anuk is dying in the falling snow
9=3^{2} The white of winter for Anuk is dying
8=2^{3 }Anuk is dying for the white of winter
7 The drift of time
6=2×3 Anuk is dying in the white of winter
5 The falling snow
4=2^{2} Anuk is dying for Anuk is dying
3 The white of winter
2 Anuk is dying
1 .

Something about the stark language and repetition in the poem grabbed me before I noticed its structure. I appreciated it even more when I saw how the poem was based on the fundamental theorem of arithmetic, which states that every whole number greater than 1 has a unique prime factorization. Glaz composed phrases to represent each prime number and combined them as dictated by each number’s factorization, using “for” for exponentiation and “in” for multiplication.