Monday, December 30, 2019

Poetry made visual with math terms

     As the year ends I have been revisiting books not seen for a while -- and one of them is Concert for Violin and Loneliness (Criterion Publishing, 2002) by the Romanian poet Mircea Goga (b. 1948). This collection was translated by Doru Radu and me.   Here are several samples in which Goga uses mathematical imagery to enrich his poems.

Poems by Mircea Goga


Like an iceberg
of which only an eighth is visible --
of death we show only
life . . . 

Friday, December 27, 2019

Math-poetry in support of immigrants

     Winner of the Ted Hughes poetry award, British poet Hollie McNish has been in the news recently as she has been commissioned to write a new version of Antigone.  Also of note is that her poem "Mathematics" -- about immigration -- has had over 2 million viewers on You Tube.

Here are a few lines from McNish's "Mathematics":

     I desperately want to scream
     “Your maths is stuck in primary”
     Cos one who comes here also spends
     And one who comes here also lends
     And some who comes here also tend     

Monday, December 23, 2019

Counted syllables --> holiday wishes . . .

 wish for 
 you is peace 
 and happiness 
 and whatever else 
 will count for you.  THANK YOU 
 for  all  you  share with 
 me.  My nights and 
 days are rich 
 from your 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Where are you from?

A question often asked when meeting someone new is "Where are you from?" -- one of my neighbors, who was born in India and now lives in Maryland, has written a poem that considers many ways one might answer that question.  Today, I have been thinking about it too.  Here are several of my beginning thoughts . . .

     I am from the barn yard, counting chickens
          I am from arithmetic, multiplying
               I am from algebra, solving
                    I am from calculus, integrating
                         I am from poetry, looking for words   . . .

Monday, December 16, 2019

Writing to Learn -- try Haiku

     Some of us learn a concept best when we write about it -- taking notes in class or while reading OR simply exploring our mind's thoughts.  Recently I discovered (in AAAS Science Magazine) these "Elemental Haiku" by Mary Soon Lee  -- offering a Haiku for each element in the periodic table.

For example, for Silicon (Si, atomic number 13) we find this:
Locked in rock and sand,
age upon age awaiting
the digital dawn.

Trying to find a Haiku to describe ALGEBRA, I came up with this:
Learn to represent
problems using equations--
then learn to solve them!

To explore previous postings of Haiku in this blog, here's a link!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Using mathematics in the Pursuit of Happiness

     One of my favorite blogs to visit is Maria Popova's Brain Pickings -- occasionally Popova's posts link mathematics and poetry    Here is a screen-snip of a Brain Pickings posting featuring verse by Lillian R. Lieber (1886-1986) -- one of my favorite math-writers.

From Lieber's 1961 bookHuman Values: Science, Art, and Mathematics

Here is a link to this blog's previous mentions of Lillian Lieber.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Qatar teacher uses Arabic poetry to teach math

     Today I call your attention to an inspiring story -- Mohamed al-Janahi is an engineer-turned-elementary-school-math-teacher who uses Arabic poetry to help students understand mathematical concepts.  More of this story is found here,   In Arabic, in this YouTube video, al-Janahi tells of his work.
     And to add a bit of poetry in English, I offer a couple of stanzas of "Time" from my collection My Dance is Mathematics (now out of print but available online here).

from   Time       by JoAnne Growney


          The clock goes round —
          showing time a circle
          rather than a line.
          Each year's return to spring
          swirls time on time.  

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Reaching for the stars . . . with science and poetry

     Astronomer Beatrice Muriel Hill Tinsley (1941– 1981) made fundamental contributions to our understanding of the evolution of galaxies (See, for example, Wikipedia).  California math teacher, editor and poet Carol Dorf celebrates Tinsley in the following poem. 

       Ask for a universe and what do you get?
                a Golden Shovel for Beatrice Tinsley            by Carol Dorf

       For a while scientists' proposed loopholes
       crossing the universe, wormholes a technique in
       which to traverse distance to other worlds, this

       unpleasant constraint which most reasoning
       holds us to a single solar system or may
       be, just perhaps a transit could exist  

Monday, December 2, 2019

Dogs Know . . . Mathematics

     A mathematics/statistics education researcher who writes both poetry and song lyrics -- who writes these often and well -- is Lawrence "Larry" Lesser, professor at The University of Texas at El Paso.  A search of prior postings in this blog leads to a variety of Lesser's poems: here's a link.
   And here is another Lesser poem to enjoy  -- this one found along with lots more math-poetry in the Bridges 2016 Poetry Anthology, edited by Sarah Glaz (Tessellations Publishing, 2016).
       Dogs Know     by Larry Lesser

       A dog-eared College Mathematics Journal lies
       open to a paper called
       "Do dogs know calculus?"
       where the author's canine travels land
       and water to reach most quickly
       the ball thrown
       into Lake Michigan.