Blogger sparks off 'Fib' poems craze across the internet
Saturday 15 April 2006
Mathematics and poetry may be unlikely companions but a growing army of would-be wordsmiths is taking up a challenge to craft six-line verses that obey the disciplines of the so-called Fibonacci sequence.
It may be premature to call it a craze but it is somewhere close, according to the man who started it. He is Gregory Pincus, a screenwriter in Los Angeles who, two weeks ago, invited readers of his blog, Gottabook.blogspot.com, to try their hand at writing what he calls six-line "Fibs". Links to that invitation have since popped up on other blogs and websites.
The result has been an outpouring of "Fibs", with more than 1,000 written since the beginning of this month, according to Mr Pincus. Common to all of them is an adherence to the Fibonacci sequence - conceived by the 13th-century mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci - which, in this instance, dictates the numbers of syllables in each line of the poem. Readers of The Da Vinci Code may remember that the sequence was the key to one of the first clues in the quest of its hero and heroine.
"It tickles me that it can spread like that," Mr Pincus told The New York Times. "It's such a wonderful thing." The huge response to his original posting is all the more satisfying since April is both Mathematics Awareness Month and National Poetry Month in the US.
Happily, you do not need to be an Einstein to grasp the Fibonacci discipline. It goes as follows: the number of syllables in any line is the sum of the syllables in the previous two lines. Thus line one must be one syllable. Line two - adding zero and one - is also one syllable, but line three is two syllables, and so on. Mr Pincus' only other requirement is that the poems should stop at six lines, with eight syllables.
Call it poetry for geeks but, for some reason, the combination of finding the right words to fit the strict pattern has inspired all sorts to offer verses, including actors, authors, schoolchildren and lawyers. A website for actuaries has posted a link to Mr Pincus's challenge and so has one for electronic musicians.
Fibbing, if we can call it that, may be just the thing for a lazy bank holiday weekend. Alternatively, it might just drive you round the bend. And there is the danger, of course, that once you start, devising fibs will become as addictive as crossword-filling or Sudoku-solving.
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