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Fractals in Poetry - A rose is a leaf is a rose is a leaf

  • Yoga Society 2872 Folsom Street San Francisco, CA, 94110 United States (map)

It is our pleasure to schedule another event to read, listen and share the poetry and literature from around the world. We are growing - 369 - together as a community from San Francisco, East, and South Bay.

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What can be common between mathematics and poetry? - Structures.

Fractal is a mathematical structure. What is fractal poetics?

Before Benoit Mandelbrot’s fractal mathematics and Gertrude Stein’s roses, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote about a primal plant, “Urpflanze,” which was constructed as a leaf within a leaf within a leaf. I wonder if his Platonic vision for this plant, from which all other plants derived, was an early imagining of fractal mathematics and response to fractal forms in the natural world (coastlines, human migration patterns, Romanesco broccoli). Visual depictions of fractals have no beginnings or endings in time, no inside or outside in space, and self-similarity and repetition occur at all discernible scales. 

Mandelbrot first used the term, “fractal,” in 1975 to consider how natural forms are aligned with theoretical and topological fractional dimensions where substructures go on infinitely and replicate themselves at all distinct scales. In Alice Fulton’s 2005 essay, “Fractal Poetics: Adaptation and Complexity,” originally published in the UK’s Interdisciplinary Science Review and which drew from an earlier essay of hers, “Of formal, free, and fractal verse: singing the body eclectic,” published by Poetry East in 1986, Fulton responds to formalists who argue that only metered forms in poetry have structure by saying that free verse has a structure much like fractals in nature have structure, where there is a “dynamic, turbulent form between perfect chaos and perfect order.” 

In fractal poetics, one poem triggers another through the repetition of certain linguistic elements or patterns. Procedural poetics resemble fractals. Fractal theory wants to help readers see the deep form in the seemingly free, to remind readers to take the free verse seriously.

An example of a fractal poem is -

Slow Song For Mark Rothko - Poem by John Taggart

To breathe and stretch one's arms again
to breathe through the mouth to breathe to
breathe through the mouth to utter in
the most quiet way not to whisper not to whisper
to breathe through the mouth in the most quiet way to
breathe to sing to breathe to sing to breathe
to sing the most quiet way.

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We invite you to read, discuss and share poetry and literature from languages around the world -Hindi/Urdu/English/Spanish/Russian/Turkish/German and others, their translations and interpretations.

Please feel free to bring your own poems, your favorite poems, any literature you like to share and discuss with the group.

We translate poems into English as best as we can with the help of the group.

We go with the flow of conversations during our gathering and are not restricted by the theme only.

Please spread the word about the group and invite your friends to join.

Please bring a friend, a poetic story to tell or simply come to listen and to enjoy. Above all bring your creative self.