Poetry in conversation with mathematics

Carol Dorf
Proceedings of Bridges 2013: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2013)
Pages 601–602 Workshop Papers


Poetry enables students to connect mathematics with their emotional lives. Often when students learn mathematics, they tend to view themselves as passive recipients of the mathematical language and content. However, when students invest creative and emotional thought into mathematics it becomes their own. Sonya Kovalevsky said: "Many who have never had occasion to learn what mathematics is ... consider it a dry and arid science...however, it is the science which demands the utmost imagination... It seems to me that the poet must see what others do not see, must look deeper than others look. And the mathematician must do the same thing." In this workshop participants will read and write poems that employ mathematical language and techniques. They will experiment with mathematical writing exercises, and consider whether these exercises will increase their own, and their students' enjoyment and understanding of mathematics.