Monday, May 18, 2009

The Fibonacci poem

If you like writing scifaiku, check out the newest kid on the block, the Fibonacci poem! Based on the Fibonacci sequence, a mathematical relationship that commonly appears in nature, the Fibonacci poem consists of 20 syllables in six lines. The six lines have 1,1,2,3,5,and 8 syllables.

Do you see the pattern? If you assume a "0" at the beginning of this sequence for 0,1,1,2,3,5,8 ... then the sum of each number in the sequence is obtained by adding the two numbers preceding it: 0+1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=3, and so on. In mathematics, the Fibonacci sequence can go on endlessly. In poetry, though, lines longer than eight syllables are hard to manage.

"Fibonacci sequences appear in [nature], such as branching in trees, arrangement of leaves on a stem, the fruitlets of a pineapple, the flowering of artichoke, an uncurling fern and the arrangement of a pine cone." (source: Wikipedia). This is the underlying math behind why we commonly see flowers with 3 or 5 petals instead of 2 or 4 petals.

Photo credit: Esdras Calderan, through a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Fibonacci sequence poems, or fibs, had a huge resurgence in 2006, when Gregory K. Pincus discussed the form in this blog post during National Poetry Month. The newly rediscovered poetry form became so popular online that the New York Times wrote an article about fibs going viral. Their sudden popularity spawned Fibetry, an online forum devoted solely to fibs, and a new journal, the fib review.

Like scifaiku, fibs are fun and strangely addicting to write. This one is a science fiction fib, so I guess that makes it a scifib.

your scaly green skin
looks so strange paired with my blue eyes


If you like this post, you might also like:

Try your hand at science poetry

Massachusetts Science Poetry Contest

Science Poem: Intrasolar interloper

Meet Scifaiku


Jessie Carty said...

Great article :) I LOVE combining science and poetics even if I was terrible at science and math in school. Much easier as an adult to study it without the pressure of a grade.

jublke said...

Thanks, Jessie! It's my theory that everyone has a special way that they get "into" math & science. Sounds like yours is poetry! BTW, it was great to "meet" you during the Great Poetry Book Giveaway of 2010. :) I am enjoying the two books of poetry that I won and I can't wait to do it all again next year. If Kelli got 55 bloggers to participate this year, I wonder how many will join in next year?