Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A Scientist's Math-Poetic Memoir

     Madhur Anand is a poet and a professor of ecology and environmental science at the University of Guelph in Ontario – her work has been noted here in earlier postings in this blog  -- and today I want to introduce readers to her memoir, This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart (Penguin Random House, 2020).  

     On the opening page we find these poetic lines:

     Biexponential Function     by Madhur Anand    

     I have of a
     book from my
     childhood is one
     entitled I Know What
     I Like
.  I remember the    
     glossy, Dubble Bubble-pink
     hardcover, borrowed from the
     library at Rockford Public
     School.  I can recite the first page, no
     doubt because of the symmetry, or
     rather, more so because of the symmetry-
     breaking of the title, the shift from the I to
     the YouI know what I like. / Do you know
     what you like?
  As a child of two colliding cultures,
     I knew that I did not know what I liked.  Yet, at that
     very young age of perhaps six or seven, I realized that
     the major goal in life, in my life, was to be able to find
     the answer to that question.  To find out what I liked . . .

Anand has said that she was pushed to write the book by her desire to better understand her past – her parent’s experiences in India during the partition of British India in the 1940s and, later, during their years in Canada. The memoir is in two parts; in one she has tried to walk in their shoes and, in a second part, her story continues theirs.   Her mentions of science and mathematics and poetry throughout the memoir add additional enriching layers.   Here is a link to a preview of this very special book.

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