# How to Write a Pi Poem (with Four Samples)

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**How to Write a Pi Poem for Pi Day (including Four samples and Two Guides)**

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

My math teachers and professors would be quite surprised to know that I am still working with the mathematical pi (the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter). Of course, I am using pi for crafting a pi poem–a poem whose number of syllables for each line coincides with the numerals of the mathematical pi. A detailed, yet simple explanation will follow with four examples and two format guides.

For this WORDWALK blog post, I am gathering together three of my previously posted pi poems (also called “piems”) and one new pi poem. Since I am presenting the piems in chronological order, if you are only interested in the new (previously unposted) pi poem, please scan down to near the end of this post. The “guides” for writing a pi poem are immediately after the third and the final samples of piems.

In my April 30, 2014, blog post, I shared my first pi poem “A Pi Poem for a Literary Luncheon.” This poem followed the first 23 numbers of the mathematical pi for each line’s number of syllables. Thus, although the mathematical pi is an infinite number, I used only the following portion of pi for my first piem of twenty-three poetic lines: 3.1415926535897932384626.

After hearing of the pi poem for the first time on April 25, 2014, on the WUWM-FM radio program “Lake Effect,” I was inspired to write my first pi poem, which follows.

**Poetry Pi for a Literary Luncheon**

By Alice Jane-Marie Massa

How do you

Cut

Poetry pi?

Do

You cut it into

Lines, stanzas, verses, meter, or rhyme?

Do you

Slice the pi into words?

The nice, honored guests

At our next

Literary lunch

Will bring mango, lemon meringue,

Cherry, chocolate cream, strawberry,

Huckleberry, gooseberry—

But I will bring the poetry pi.

With a plume,

I will

Cut the pi,

With metaphoric math in mind,

Into garnished,

Savory similes

To tempt

Each writers’ taste and pen.

** NOTE: In my May 28, 2014, WORDWALK blog post, entitled “Remembrance of a Rainbow,” I included the pi poem “Meteorological Versus Metaphorical Rainbows.” With the re-posting of this second pi poem, I am including the introductory note that accompanied the earlier post on WORDWALK.

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**Remembrance of a Rainbow:**

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by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

One of the wonderful parts of growing up in the small, rural, Hoosier town of Blanford was having a big front porch. Not only did my family love this big front porch, but also visitors loved our porch which had beautiful vistas of fields to the west, north, and east during all seasons of the year. In my mind, I pleasantly keep a water color painting of a majestic scene I was blessed to view many years ago–decades ago. However, this pastel remembrance does not fade from my memory album. The scene was a gift from Mother Nature–a gift to behold. Standing before the wooden swing on the front porch, I (then, an adolescent) saw a rainbow form and grace the eastern sky, over the land of our neighbors Bill and Clotene Toppas, at the crest of our little hill of the cut-off road. While I do not have a clear recollection of stars in a night sky, I feel fortunate to have a distinct remembrance of this lovely rainbow on a misty and humid Hoosier day when sun met the rain just to the east of our front porch.

Inspired by this rainbow, I decided to write my second pi poem. With this piem, I did meet my goal of 32 poetic lines. The number of syllables for each line follows these 32 numerals of pi, up to the zero: 3.14159265358979323846264338327950. Although a pi poem is most associated with Pi Day–March 14 (3/14), you may read or write a pi poem on any day of the year. Additionally, the piem which you write need not be 32 lines: your pi creation may be less lines or more–as long as the number of syllables per poetic line follow the infinite numerals of the mathematical pi. My example of a 32-line pi poem follows.

**Meteorological versus Metaphorical Rainbows**

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**(A Pi Poem of Springtime Colors)**

By Alice Jane-Marie Massa

A rainbow

Forms

A radiant

Arc

Prompting umbrella

Holders to close their perk parasols

And look

At a rare gift from Mother Nature;

Yet the scientists

Interpret

This phenomenon

As sunlight hitting rain droplets

At varying, different angles

To spray a spectacular

Spectrum of colors, viewed uniquely

By each child,

Adult,

Teenager.

Tiny raindrops break the sunlight

Into colors.

Ceremoniously,

I say:

Mother Nature’s palette

Sometimes dribbles

Leftover

Pastel hues.

What does crafty Mother Nature

Re-design?

The sky—

Rainy sky touched by sunbeams.

Impressionistic painter, please brush

Rainbows on your world.

** NOTE: In my third pi poem, I extended my use of pi by two numerals past the first zero. With 34 lines, the following pi poem has syllables for each line based upon this portion of the mathematical pi: 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028.

For a pi poem, only the number of syllables per line is important; the rhyming pattern or lack of a rhyme scheme is the writer’s choice. Dividing the piem into stanzas is also the decision of the poet (or “piemist”).

If you choose to take on the challenge of writing a pi poem by this year’s Pi Day–3/14/19, March 14, 2019–you have eight days to meet your poetic goal. To further assist you with this goal, after the first presentation of my third pi poem, the piem will be repeated with a numeral accompanying each line: the numeral at the onset of each line indicates the number of syllables in that poetic line. Therefore, the second presentation of my pi poem lets you know how I did follow the numerals of the mathematical pi to create my piem. I find writing a pi poem is like playing a word game, and I hope that you will enjoy crafting a piem also.

If you decide to take the “Pi-Poem Challenge” by Pi Day, please comment on my blog or send me an e-mail.

ajm321kh@wi.rr.com

The next piem originally was posted on WORDWALK on February 18, 2015.

**Wintering Hands (A Pi Poem)**

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

My dry hands

need

winter’s lotion

or

moisture of snowflakes

without the numbing chill to the bone.

These hands

that do read braille by touch

reach into the gloves

of winter

to protect the sense

that gives me the blessing to read.

When you make snow angels with gloved hands,

when you form snowballs in palms,

when you shovel snow with mittened hands,

remember

to take

special care

of your wintered fingers and thumbs.

Throughout winter,

two extra pairs of gloves

are tucked

inside my worn backpack

so that if I

lose a pair

or find I

need to give a pair to someone,

I will be

fully

prepared to share the safe warmth

of thick fleece-lined, snowflake-patterned gloves.

Glove compartments soothe

the soul

that worries about winter’s cold.

** NOTE: To assist you with writing a pi poem of your own creation, I will repeat the text of “Wintering Hands” below; however, you will find that each line is preceded by a number which indicates the number of syllables of the poetic line. If you read only the numerals down the left side of the page, you will find that these numerals are the first thirty-four numbers of the mathematical pi. To deal with a zero of pi, you may skip the zero, insert a stanza break at the point of the zero, or craft a line of ten syllables.

**Wintering Hands (A Guide for a Pi Poem)**

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

(3) My dry hands

(1) need

(4) winter’s lotion

(1) or

(5) moisture of snowflakes

(9) without the numbing chill to the bone.

(2) These hands

(6) that do read braille by touch

(5) reach into the gloves

(3) of winter

(5) to protect the sense

(8) that gives me the blessing to read.

(9) When you make snow angels with gloved hands,

(7) when you form snowballs in palm,

(9) when you shovel snow with mittened hands,

(3) remember

(2) to take

(3) special care

(8) of your wintered fingers and thumbs.

(4) Throughout winter,

(6) two extra pairs of gloves

(2) are tucked

(6) inside my worn backpack

(4) so that if I

(3) lose a pair

(3) or find I

(8) need to give a pair to someone,

(3) I will be

(2) fully

(7) prepared to share the safe warmth

(9) of thick fleece-lined, snowflake-patterned gloves.

(5) Glove compartments soothe

(2) the soul

(8) that worries about winter’s cold.

** NOTE: The fourth and final pi poem of this blog post is a new one for this year’s celebration of Pi Day. I wrote the following nineteen-line piem on February 25 and 26. After the first presentation of the poem, you will find the guideline for the nineteen-line pi poem to assist you in writing your own piem.

**A Feather for a Nom De Plume**

a pi poem by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

Nom de plume

scribed

with a feather

to

conceal my own name,

unairbrushed photographic image,

hometown.

Beside the glass inkwell,

my heart’s nom de plume

twirls in hand

to reveal my past,

burgeoning rhymed poetic soul–

like a rainbow in an unknown sky.

Dear kind and earnest readers,

You think you know me by measured words,

but you know

true me

only by

the fluff of my fuchsia feathers.

** NOTE: Below you will find the piem “A Feather for a Nom de Plume” repeated, but with each line preceded by the number of syllables for the line. You may use the following guide for a nineteen-line pi poem. Nevertheless, remember that your piem may be as long as you wish.

**A Feather for a Nom De Plume**

a pi-poem guide by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

[3] Nom de plume

[1] scribed

[4] with a feather

[1] to

[5] conceal my own name,

[9] unairbrushed photographic image,

[2] hometown.

[6] Beside the glass inkwell,

[5] my heart’s nom de plume

[3] twirls in hand

[5] to reveal my past,

[8] burgeoning rhymed poetic soul–

[9] like a rainbow in an unknown sky.

[7] Dear kind and earnest readers,

[9] You think you know me by measured words,

[3] but you know

[2] true me

[3] only by

[8] the fluff of my fuchsia feathers.

** CLOSING NOTE: If you are an instructor, a teacher, or someone else who would like to use this blog post for instructional purposes, please use the entire post and include the address of my WORDWALK blog where, since January of 2013, a variety of my other poems and prose pieces continue to appear.

https://alice13wordwalk.wordpress.com

Enjoy piem writing, and Happy Pi Day!

*Alice and Leader Dog Willow*

March 6, 2019, Wednesday

Thanks for sharing this novel (to me) form of poetry writing which I do enjoy reading even if I don’t have the ambition to try writing one. I especially like the one about the rainbow.–Sue

Dear Alice,

All four of your pi poems are delightful—so creative and descriptive! I enjoyed them, and as always, admire your talent. Mathematicians and poets alike will be inspired by your examples and advice to write this unique style of poetry during the month of March. I hope you treat yourself to a delicious piece of pie to celebrate Pi Day!

Love, Mary

Hi, Mary–Thanks for your nice comment! On Pi Day, I think I will stick with the non-caloric, easy-to-make poetry pi.

Enjoy the weekend–Alice and Willow