Thursday, January 30, 2020

Learning slowly . . savoring difficulty . . .

      There are geniuses (like Srinivasa Ramanujan) who learn mathematics quickly -- but I am not one of them.  In the following poem I reflect on how I learn . . . 

       Reflection     by JoAnne Growney

       I read and I did not understand.
       Less than a page.
       I read slowly and I did not understand.
       I read and took notes.
       My notes were three times as long as what I had read.

       I rewrote what I read in my own words.
       I reread it and inserted extra clarifying words.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Poetically exploring the the invention of "i"

     Today's posting features work by Punya Mishra, professor and administrator at Arizona State University -- a writer who offers explanations of mathematical concepts in his poems, explanations that can appeal to students!   Mishra's website features several mathy poems and in our email correspondence he said that "The Mathematical i" is his favorite.  Here are are several stanzas:

from  The Mathematical    by Punya Mishra

       The negative numbers were full of dismay
       We have no roots, they were heard to  say
       What, they went on, would be the fruit
       of trying to find our square root?

       Matters seem to be getting out of hand
       Since the negatives have taken a stand,
       On the fact that positives have two roots, while they have none.
       They plead, would it have killed anybody to give us just one?
       The square roots of 4 are + and – 2! As for -4 ?  How unfair,
       He has none! None at all. Do the math gods even care?

Monday, January 27, 2020

Remembering Leonardo da Vinci

     One of the readers featured at the recent 1/17/2020 JMM math-poetry reading was Italian mathematician/poet Rosanna Iembo.  Below, with Iembo's permission, I offer a sample from her poem, "A New Dawn"  -- a poetic narrative in the voice of Leonardo da Vinci, a genius of the Italian Renaissance.  Here are a few lines from this narrative; the entire work is available from the poet (contact information is offered here on her website.).

Referring to Luca Pacioli, the poet's voice of da Vinci says:

       With him
       a common feeling
       that did not end over the years.

       And in the "Proportion"
       which he decided to call
       where I drew
       my polyhedra,
       reached maximum splendor.   

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Focus on FOUR

     Numerous poems by Canadian poet Alice Major connect to science and mathematics, and Major has connected me with Ottawa poet and mechanical engineer Sneha Madhavan-Reese -- who has shared with me not only poetry but also the new-to-me fact that her home city of  Ottawa lies on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin Nation.  Here is Madhavan-Reese's poem, "Four," a thoughtful reminder of the vast versatility of mathematical notions.
       Four     by Sneha Madhavan-Reese

               Is 4 the same 4 for everybody? -- Pablo Neruda, The Book of Questions

       My mother draws her four with a right angle;
       my father's is pointed on top.  My daughter's four,
       half the time, is backwards.  Her sister signs,
       tucking a thumb into her raised palm.   

Monday, January 20, 2020

Remember -- and Celebrate

     Today as we remember Martin Luther King, I invite you to visit postings in this blog that celebrate his life -- follow this link.  
And here is a link to
And one more link -- 
          this one to The Mathematician's Project 
("Mathematicians Are Not Just White Dudes.")

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Math-Poetry tomorrow (1/17) -- in Denver at JMM

You are invited:
Sponsored by
and the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics

Monday, January 13, 2020

The world of Math Girls . . .

     This past weekend my oldest granddaughter turned sixteen -- and I intensely want every career door to be open to her and to my other granddaughters (and my grandson).  The times are changing, new doors are opening for girls and women,  Still, these syllable-square thoughts are on my mind this morning.  

     Math Girls     

          A math girl must be       
          smarter than the rest –-
          yet must be modest
          and never claiming.
          Math-World is not fair.

And here are more of my mathy-perhaps-poetic thoughts.

     When you’re a math girl you may be the only girl in the room.
          A math girl must be three times as good to be equal.   

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Browse Math-Poetry Links . . .

     Today I invite you to browse -- to spend a moment reading titles, clicking on a title that intrigues you.   ENJOY!

Monday, January 6, 2020

We become what we think . . .

     Browsing a recent issue of World Literature Today, I have found a thought-provoking activist poem by Linda Hogan that considers the ways we are shaped by "our numbers."  I offer below its opening stanzas:

       Embodied   by Linda Hogan

       I am embodied first by the numbers
       given my grandparents,
       no choice but to sign the Dawes Act.    

Thursday, January 2, 2020

With bits of mathematics, a poem for a New Year

     Here -- containing bits of mathematical terminology --  is an excerpt from "A Poem for the New Year" by Nigerian poet Christopher Okigbo (1932-1967).  

from    A Poem for the New Year     by Christopher Okigbo

          Where then are the roots, where the solution
          To life’s equation?

          The roots are nowhere
          There are no roots here
          Probe if you may
          From now until doomsday
          We have to think of ourselves as forever