the poetry that matters

Gerard Beirne

Gerard Beirne is an Irish writer who has lived in Canada for over ten years. He has recently been appointed Writer-in-Residence at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) for the forthcoming academic year.

His  collection of poems Digging My Own Grave was published by Dedalus Press, Ireland. An earlier version won Second Place in the Patrick Kavanagh Award. His novel The Eskimo in the Net (Marion Boyars Publishers, London) was short listed for The Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award 2004. He is a past recipient of the Sunday Tribune/Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year award. A CD of his poetry if it’s words you’re after… was released in 2005. His story Sightings of Bono was adapted into a short film (Parallel Productions) featuring Bono.

Extract from Introduction to Mathematical Logic



7. Biconditional Statements


for every conditional statement

there corresponds a converse



for every converse

there corresponds

a conditional statement


(but worse

            the converse is not

                         necessarily true


an unresponsive correspondence

from me to you)


(less despondent) the biconditional statement

(the conjunction of a conditional

                                       and its converse)

for this

           read equivalence


(the argument not always reversible)



henceforth enhance your expression

by reducing your statements

to those of simpler equivalence


(call this mathematical manipulation

a stipulation of natural prosody)


Call this

         authorial intrusion:


if a conditional has a conjunction

in either the hypothesis or conclusion

it is possible to


                             partial converses


(Faraday’s method for discovering

electromagnetic induction -



if a current flows in a wire

and the wire forms

                        a closed circuit

then a magnetic field is created




if a magnetic field is created

around a wire

and the wire forms

                             a closed circuit

then a current flows)


generating your own electricity

be aware of both of those




8. Necessary and Sufficient Conditions


“Necessary and sufficient



a frequently occurring phrase

in mathematics


(the power of repetition)


conditional and biconditional


enabling us to symbolise

their meaning


for example:

         “if two angles are right-angled

                                 then they are equal”


the two angles being right-angled

is sufficient for them to be equal

but not necessary for equal angles

since they may be equal

but not right angled


( a right tangle -

but necessary and sufficient

for our understanding


our comprehension

of the tension

implicit in our words


the underlying intent

            struggling to be heard)


thus   p  Þ  q

can be read

p is sufficient for q


but in order to


“If p is not true

then q is not true”

( ~p  Þ  ~q)

               p must be

a necessary condition of q


(for that read



one sentence dependent on the other

what follows made comprehensible

only by what came before

words sufficiently

                          conveying the truth


                  necessitating lies


in other words

               a poem

                    not fully realised)



       the biconditional  p  Û   q


        p   Þ   q   and q   Þ   p

all things as they are meant

                                      to be


for this read

       p is sufficient and necessary for q

       or “q is necessary and sufficient for p



p if and only if q


p and q logically equivalent


our minds spent


       what to do?



          p and q

              being variables


lines, sentences

of your construction


insert your own intentions

the sufficient and necessary essentials


with little or no instruction


words, phrases


logical and tangible

contrapositives searching out

                   our own ambivalence



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