Hurricane Sandy and the Fibonacci Sequence

With so much bad news  coming out of New Jersey this week, I was worried when I received a message from a publisher in New Jersey today which had the word “unfortunately” in the first paragraph. Now any writer who has ever submitted work to publishers will know to look for that word immediately as an instant sign of rejection.

I had submitted some Fibonacci poems to the excellent journal The Fib Review which specialises in this style of poetry, based on the Fibonacci Mathematical Sequence, one that particularly attracts me. The Fib Review is published by Muse-Pie Press in Passaic, New Jersey (see Links)  and they have been kind enough to publish a number of my poems over the last three years – in every issue in fact since Issue Three.

We all have to live with rejection so I skimmed the rest of the note with a bit more attention: “Unfortunately I’ve been affected by Hurricane Sandy and I’ve been without power for several days.”

Further on I read that The Fib Review wants to publish three of my new Fib poems in the next edition, Issue Thirteen. I am doubly delighted after that moment of disappointment.

I have been writing Fibonacci poetry now for about three and a half years after first learning about it from the pioneering editor of The Fib Review, Mary-Jane Grandinetti who is a specialist in short-form poetry. I am doubly grateful to her for the inspiration and for the encouragement.

Leonardo Pisano Bigollo (c.1170 – c.1250) – known as Fibonacci

The Fibonacci Sequence was brought to Europe by one Leonardo Pisano Bigollo (c.1170 – c.1250) who is also known as Leonardo of Pisa or, more simply, as Fibonacci. He discovered what was originally a Hindu-Arab form of mathematics when travelling in North Africa and published his findings in a highly influencial book Liber Abaci (1202) or The Book Of Calculations which also introduced into Europe the now familiar Arabic numeral system that replaced the more complicated Roman numerals.

Liber Abaci (1202) Book of Calculation

The Fibonacci Sequence is a mathematical formula that identifies the relationship between certain numerical combinations when added together in a specific sequence.

In his book, Fibonacci explains his system using the example of rabbits breeding in a field. He begins with one male and one female and makes the assumption that neither they or their offspring will die. After one year, he asks, how many rabbits will there be in that field. Don’t try this at home, believe me, it could get messy, but Fibonacci calculated that the number of rabbits could be predicted by his system: 1, 1, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 35, 55, 89, 144 etc. You will notice, pay attention at the back, that each number is the sum of the previous two. It was the use of these numbers as syllable counts that attracted me to writing Fibonacci poems. Here is an example of a Fibonacci poem by Jim Wilson:

Homage to the Fibonacci
Fibs –
Poems –
Not lies –
Poetry –
Based on a series 
That slowly unfolds like a seed,
At first you hardly notce that the fib has started,
Then the lines that were once so constricted suddenly open like
branches of a tree;

This is its nature and
ever-expanding essential meaning and centrifugal motion of the exhilarating

Jim Wilson.

To borrow your patience a moment longer, you can also use these Fibonacci numbers to make something known as the Fibonacci Spiral where curved lines are fitted into a series of squares with Fibonacci numerical dimensions:

This is one of the basic patterns of Nature and it has its own beauty which we can recognise even if we don’t understand it.

It is used, either consciously or subliminally in the proportions in a work of art too. Like this photo of a rose…..

or this advert for Cognac:

It was also the shape of Hurricane Sandy when it arrived on the shores of New Jersey and took out the electricity of The Fib Review. Now that’s another neat, if inconvenient, Fibbonaci pattern.

For other examples of Fibonacci poetry go to The Fib Review at – you can hear me read some of mine in the video column to the right of this blog. Issue 13 of the Fib Review will be out soon.

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