Free Write Friday: Mathematickles

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Whenever I think of words and math hanging out together, I instantly think of story problems, which were the bane of my existence in grade school.  However, after reading a short segment in Rip the Page by Karen Benke, my perspective has drastically changed.  Story problems don’t have to be lame plot lines designed to confuse my ability to add or subtract.  The poet in me has been awakened to the possibility of adding, subtracting, dividing, and multiplying words.

In a section entitled, “A Note From: Betsy Franco,” the concept of mathematickles is introduced as the fusion of poetry and math.  She gives a few examples to get the muse juice flowing:

rooftops
porches
+ under cars
___________

where the neighborhood kitties are

– – –

puddles – rescued worms = cloudy mirrors

– – –

Franco’s initial idea was to use haiku as a base, but she encourages poets to take risks by playing with form and language.  The more broken rules, the better!  I found the idea of math poetry so whimsical and inspiring I couldn’t help but free write a few of my own mathematickles.

– – –

millions of words
+ thousands of pages
________________

reader on board

– – –

tiny bladder  − all but four teeth + a wagging nubbin’ = one forgiven and spoiled dog

– – –

Old stove  ×  high burn ratio  ÷  low cuisine IQ =  kitchen meltdown

– – –

Pile of paperwork² + reluctant adults + ornery (slow) computer × surprise variables =
Yay! Taxes are done.

– – –

 seeds aplenty
sunflowers
sweet peas
× snap beans
__________

songs of spring

– – –

Betsy Franco has written an entire book dedicated to math poetry, called Mathematickles!  Creating word equations has never been more fun!  Endless inspiration is sure to ensue and no calculator is required.

Are you inspired to be a math poet?  Post your mathematickle or link in the comments.

Happy free writing!

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c.b. 2012

Wreck This Journal: Doodlebug

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When Wreck This Journal instructed me doodle on the front pages, I panicked.  I am not much of a doodler, nor have I ever been.  Drawing does not come easily to me and I am, by nature, a planner. Even though my experiences with Wreck This Journal have launched me into the glorious realm of whimsy and nonsense, doodling without a prompt of some kind really threw me for a loop.  I had no idea what to do!

My journal sat open on the table for days without a doodle in sight.  It wasn’t until I thought of the single doodle I once created in my school notebooks that I finally found my inspiration.  The last time I made a “daisy chain” was probably my junior year in college, right before I found myself engulfed in the craziness that is student teaching.  To my surprise, stringing daisies together is just like riding a bike as I could still do it without thinking twice.

Once I finished the daisy chain, the rest fell naturally into place.  The “Warning” at the top of the page reminded me of the Red Alert siren in Star Trek: The Next Generation, so I colored it red and gave the order to raise shields.  After all, the rest of the page needed protection from the explosion of yellow and dark pink.  I added color around all the text and highlighted words and phrases that appealed to me. In addition, I doodled little pieces of writing in reaction to the text and my daisy chain.

At the very bottom, I wrote a phrase that continues to serve as my philosophical moment for this page: One day I’ll learn to live with crooked lines.  That day has yet to arrive, but I’m learning.

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Update: I have to make a small adjustment to my post, January Status Report: 2012 Goals. For Goal #3, I noted I had written 3,654 words in my second novel, but after a very productive day of writing (on Jan 31st), the word count now stands at 4,412. Yay!

c.b. 2012

The Art of Wandering

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Recently, someone asked me what I was planning to do during a visit London this summer.  I laughed and said, “Plan?  There is no plan!  I’m going to wander.”  The woman looked at me like she wanted to commit me to a mental institution.  It’s not the first time I’ve been on the receiving end of a “you’re nuts” look, (and it won’t be the last).  I wander a lot.  Just about everything I do involves at least a little detour off the well-trod path.  If that makes me weird, then so be it.

Wandering doesn’t mean there’s a lack of focus.  It’s a form of learning that inspires creativity in multiple realms.  This is no secret as countless individuals from Da Vinci to Edison have proven it over and over again.  They had the ability to see the world without limitation and we laude them for it to this day.  Yet, there remains a stigma over the art of wandering.   It’s considered eccentric.  Or crazy.

One writer in particular touted the virtues of wandering and I often look to him as a reminder that life is much too big for a narrow view.  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was unquestionably a pretty serious and intelligent guy as he dabbled in various fields of study from politics, the law, science, art, and literature. He even played with the study of color.  Some would call him indecisive, but Goethe was simply wandering.  He had the will to be curious of more than one calling and he gave himself the freedom to explore.   In four small lines, he offers inspiration to do the same:

Keep not standing,
fixed and rooted
Briskly venture,
briskly roam.

Funny how no one ever wanted to put him in the nut house.

Sometimes it feels like the whole point of life is to get lost just so I can find my way back.  Wandering is essentially curiosity without boundaries – there’s no endpoint or timeframe.  It’s just the moment and me having an intimate conversation.  Whether it be down the streets of an unfamiliar city, between the pages of a random book by an unknown author, or among the words of a story I’m writing there is always something to discover.  That something would be bypassed if I only followed the perfectly drawn lines of a plan.  There is magic out there, but it purposely hides in the most unexpected places.  And it can only be found through the act of wandering.

Perhaps it is easier to travel with a roadmap, but where is the spirit of living when every step is carefully choreographed?  Failure to wander is the same as standing still.  The scenery never changes and new possibilities die before they can live.   Given the choice to wander or stagnate, I’m with Goethe.

c.b. 2011