## Thursday, October 20, 2022

### Communicating Mathematics with Poetry

Each year MoMath -- a contest for high school students; guidelines for next year's contest (deadline:  April 28, 2023) are available here.

The 2022 Strogatz Prize winners include a poem -- "a proof of the function me" -- by Wyeth Renwick; here are its opening lines.

a proof of the function me     by Wyeth Renwick

step one.
find u.

step two.
add u to me and watch how the whole graph shifts upwards
to make a u sized space where before it was only me
until we're floating above the x-axis, u + me, an infinite
line that stretches on past billions of little boxes
on this graph paper grid.  let yourself think
that maybe, just maybe, we were made for this - let yourself
solve for the limits of the function and find that
u + me approaches infinity.

step three.

square it all, square everything - make us into the parabola
that my smile can't help but curve into when you pull
our pinkies together and hold on real tight . . .

The MoMath website offers these thoughtful comments about the poem:

Wyeth Renwick’s poem is intriguingly ambiguous and open to interpretation: some of the judges read it as a love poem that winks at the reader with its use of mathematical concepts and language, while others saw it as a poetic animation of a human relationship, viewed as the graph of a function.  Either way, it makes math and poetry both seem more accessible to students who might otherwise not be drawn to these subjects.