Poetry Friday: “Fiesta for Fractions” by M. M. Socks

Saludos, math geeks!

When I was in high school, literary types like me could choose between three years of math or three years of science instead of being tortured by both. Since science would have required spending the summer catching bugs and pinning their hard-shelled but lifeless bodies to styrofoam, I opted for the lesser evil (so I thought) of the math sequence. Here’s how it went down:

  • 9th grade algebra: 70-ish average due to boredom; 98 on the Regents exam*. I could do it. Just didn’t want to.
  • 10th grade geometry: 60-ish average due to triangle deficiency; 80 on the Regents. Spent the better part of the year seething about the existence of theorems. 
  • 11th grade trigonometry: 34 average due to hopelessness; 65 on the Regents on the second try. All other memories repressed.

*(The Regents exams are required standardized tests particular to New York State. At the time I took the tests, the grade you got on the Regents wiped out your average for the year and became your final grade for the class. Seems fair, right?)

I know some weirdos like math, but for me the only saving grace about math is that it occasionally requires us to talk about PIE. (Also PI, but I lost interest in that when I discovered there was no flaky crust involved.) No, the PIE I mean is the one that always comes up when talking about fractions. Can I divide and multiply fractions? Sometimes. Can I divide and multiply pies? Always.

So if you’re going to talk to me about math, consider that this:

will not interest me nearly as much as this:

Okay, that’s a cake, but it’s equally acceptable as a math tool. It’s also acceptable as a party component — and what do you get when you put math and parties together? Why, you get a “Fiesta for Fractions” of course! So get out your triangular tortillas, find the hypotenuse, and welcome today’s guest

M. M. Socks

(Just for the record, I call our guest fabulously fractious in the video. I’m aware that fractious means easily irritated, but there aren’t a lot of choices for adjectives that sound like fraction. And who knows? Maybe he is a cranky poet. I know I would be if I had to write a poem about math!)

FIESTA FOR FRACTIONS

One-Fourth organized the event
And got the news spread,
By sending invitations
And this is what it read:

“Reserve your spot
For the party and attractions
At the first ever
Fiesta for Fractions!”

One-Half accepted.
Two-Thirds said he might.
The One-Eighth twins were definitely in!
Three-Fifths declined the invite.

The day of the fiesta, One-Fourth greeted everyone
With a cheerful “HELLO!”
Then he handed them a colorful sarape
And a big sombrero.

He cheerfully announced
All the games they would play
And just like that,
The Fiesta for Fractions was underway.

But something was off.
There was no laughing or singing.
No fractions were talking —
No one was mingling!

Then One-Fourth had an idea.
He brought out a guacamole-filled bowl.
Then, finally, One-Half, the One-Eighth twins and One-Fourth
Gathered around, ate, laughed, sang —
And came together as one whole.

[heading style=”1″]SNICKERVIEW™ with M. M. Socks[/heading]

What’s up with Mr. Socks

Mr. Socks: who are you, where are you, and how long have you been a rhyming fool?
My full name is Mis Matched Socks. My dad Argyle and my mom Aloe Infused named me after a gypsy woman who told my mama I’d be born with mismatched socks.

I still live at home, inside Alvaro Salinas, Jr.’s head, but once I get enough money I’m moving out and finding my own place.

I’ve been a rhyming buffoon (I prefer buffoon to fool) since I showed Alvaro my first poem. He liked it so much he told me to come back any time I had more to share.

Can you tell us a bit about your alter ego, M.M. Socks? Which fraction of you is him?
M. M. Socks is made up of two halves. One half never quite fit in and the other half reminds the first that it’s okay to be different. 

I’d say I’m M. M. Socks 100% – {(1/1) * (1*1) * 0} of the time.

Could you share, in whole or in part, your earliest poem?

“The Comb Poem”

My name is Jarome and I took her comb.
It’s hidden safely under my pillow at home.
Shh, don’t tell my sister. Let her stress.
I’m tired of her making my hair a mess.

Are you a real-life math whiz or do you just play one on the Internet?
Math has been a sore subject with me ever since a colleague of mine stole my work and passed it off as his own. If I ever find that Albert Einstein, he’ll have a lot of explaining to do!

Is your opus focused mainly on partying fractions, or do you write other stuff too? Regarding the road to publication, would you say you are ¼ way there, ½ way there, or (x-y)/c=z+1 there?
Currently, I have an ebook in development with Flyingbooks Ltd which will be out later this year.  I’m also working on a collaborative work of poetry and art called “Bounce” with amazing artist Ludid Ryu. 

I’m putting the finishing touches on a book of over 200 poems by M. M. Socks which I hope grabs the attention of a publishing partner.

If you could (painlessly) divide two children’s poets in half and combine them into a whole new person like one of Jack Prelutsky’s Scranimals, which two poets would they be and why? What would be their new name?
Can we first give it up for Scranimals? What a great book. I mean, c’mon — Bananaconda?!  Greatness. 

I’d join a poet with a beautiful, cultural, conscious voice with a whimsical, witty poet. I’d join Pat Mora and Calef Brown to make Patlef Brora. Or perhaps Hope Anita Smith with Judith Viorst to make Anne Judy Smist.

What do you do when you’re not being fractious (sorry again!)?
I walk. I write. I laugh with my wife. I talk to my cat. I give my kids piggyback rides, and I always call my mother.

Quick: a rhyming couplet using the word “equation.”

It didn’t matter that he was a tough equation–
He’d get someone to solve him with his power of persuasion.

Can we visit your sock drawer to see what you do? That is, if you don’t mind a bunch of half-wits running around. Or…am I speaking only for myself?
Of course, please come visit The Sock Drawer any time. I update it regularly and love to read visitors’ comments and feedback. 

Here’s where you can find me:

Blog/Website: The Drawer of M. M. Socks
Twitter: @mm_socks
Facebook Author Page: MM Socks

Thanks for stopping by, Alvaro, and for adding “Fiesta for Fractions” to No Water River’s growing video poetry library!
Thank YOU, Renée!  You’ve been a gracious host! (Except for the insults, I imagine.)

[heading style=”1″]Extension Activities for “Fiesta for Fractions”[/heading]

  • Writing
    • Mr. Socks’s poem imagines what would happen if a bunch of math elements got together for a party. Write your own party poem by bringing together several similar elements and describing what happens when they get together for a fiesta. For example, what would happen if all the parts of speech got together? All the sports equipment? All the appliances in your kitchen?
  • Reading

  • Eating
    • Bake an apple pi pie.

 

About 9/10 of Tabatha is hosting Poetry Friday over at The Opposite of Indifference. The other 1/10 is just sitting around being fabulous, as she does.

[heading style=”1″]NEXT WEEK: A MEOW-ERFUL POEM FOR TWO CATS[/heading]

AW, SHUCKS!
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Video Location: 1/2 way to Dallas, Texas, as the crow flies, or 2/3 if you’re following a cockatoo.

See more poems in my poetry video library.

“Fiesta for Fractions” © Alvaro Salinas, Jr. All rights reserved.

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42 Comments

  1. Fun poem and interview! But I’m stuck on the very idea of only having to do three years of math OR science. My teens now have to do four years of each, and it makes it difficult to fit in the arts – like creative writing.

  2. Congrats mijo, i saw ur video n ur were great, we r very proud of you n love u very much, keep up the good work!!

  3. I too am interested in the either/or of math or science. It might have been more interesting to have some of both. Love the idea of all the ‘fractions’ in the same ‘guacamole bowl’. I have visions of other groups as you said & think students would like creating with that idea, Renee. Fun, fun! Thank you!

    1. Linda and MotherReader – This was back in the ’80s, so no idea what it’s like now. Everyone had to take four years of history and four years of English AND earth science in 9th grade, then from there you could choose to continue science or do the math sequence. Of course you could do both if you wanted, but I didn’t want. I had plenty of time to take years of French, studio art, band, chorus, drama, creative writing, and public speaking. I think it was a good deal!

  4. What. a. fun. fantastic. post!

    My socks are all atwirl!! Great poem and interview. I feel the same about math, though I liked geometry. Mmmm, apple pi pie. 🙂

  5. Fun poem! (Although my brain is now spinning) I’ve read many of Alvaro’s (and MM’s) poetry, but hadn’t seen this one. Loved the interview, as well…best wishes for success getting published!

  6. Such fun! Renee, I opted for as much humanities and as little math as possible in school, too. My brother went off to Vanderbilt at 16 and double-majored in math and electrical engineering. Not sure that genes pie was divided very equally in my family… .

    Thanks to you and to M.M. for a fresh, poetic take on the subject! And, if I’d known there was guacamole involved, I might have taken calculus after all.

    1. Hey, we have almost the same brother! Mine was into mechanical drawing and went off to study electrical engineering. He was always rewiring stuff in the house. Now he supervises a lab that does something confusing with electrical/computer components. Or something.

      Much more fun to write poems about guacamole, don’t you think?

      1. Ha ha! Then you know how I felt when, in high school, I asked mine one time when he was home from college to help me with a trig problem, and he replied that he couldn’t bring himself down to such an elementary level to explain it. He designs computer chips or something now and has improved in the communication dept. I have not improved in the math dept. Glad folks like M. M. can encourage the next generation!

  7. Fun and fractious fiesta!

    I surfed to Wikipedia because I wanted to reference La Cucaracha. It says “The cockroach’s uneven, five-legged gait is imitated by the song’s original 5/4 meter, formed by removing one upbeat (corresponding to the missing sixth leg) from the second half of a 6/4 measure.”

    I’m not sure exactly how that beat goes, but it sounds like fractions to me!

      1. Usually 6, but the poor bug in the song has lost one leg and is struggling:

        “The cockroach, the cockroach / can no longer walk / because he doesn’t have, because he lacks / a hind leg”

  8. haha! Such fun Renee and Mr. Socks. I hate to admit this, being a complete literary person myself but I actually liked math too! Please don’t throw pi at me.

  9. This poem and snickerview gave me a good math giggle! Thank you both! Fractions, food, and fun – a super way to start the day.

    Now, Renee…where in NY are you from? Of course I am wondering if we grew up in neighboring towns.

    As for the high school classes, I just went to orientation for our eldest who will begin HS next year. There sure are a lot of required courses, and I’m hoping we’ll find a way to sneak in electives too.

    Happy PF!

    xo, a.

    1. Thanks for coming, Amy! I’m from Salem, a one-traffic-light town on the border of Vermont, about 40 minutes from Saratoga. And you? I assumed you were from Buffalo!

      Good luck with class sign-up! Seems to have gotten a lot more complicated since I was in school a thousand years ago. 🙂

  10. Loved this interview and poem! M.M. has a flair for combining poets’ names 🙂 Your description of your experiences with math in high school was almost a poem in itself, Renee.

  11. Loved the post! It made my whole day even though a fraction of the day is all that has passed. I was so impressed by the fabulously fractious Mr. Socks that I am now following his blog!

    As for me and my mathematical experiences, I am so old that I only had to take two maths to graduate from high school….and that was two too many! Of course, then going into college math made me quite fractious as working to comprehend a small percentage of the information subtracted from my social life, added to my study time, multiplied my frustration, and divided what could’ve been hours of prime time with friends into a fraction of what it should’ve been.

  12. This was so much fun. I started doing fibonacci poems with elementary schoolers last year and they ate it up like it was pie (or pi). Great poem and I love the book recommendation. Thank you, Renee! Your post is as rich as a 1/8 slice of that chocolate cake.

  13. Renee,
    I love M. M. Socks and look forward to a forthcoming publication. We’re out here cheering you on, Mr. Socks!
    I plan to pass this poem around to my elementary teaching colleagues. What a great way to build literacy in math! Your extension activities will make learning and writing fun. I love the clever use of ‘fractionese” throughout this post.

  14. Renee
    Love your post and funny interview. Thanks for introducing me to someone new.
    Back in the dark ages in NY state, I had to have 3 yrs of math and got away with 2 yrs.of science by taking 4 yrs. of French and 2 of Spanish. However ended up with 4 years of math!!!! Now so much depends on your college plans….then I taught gr. 5 for 24 years….let me tell you to survive fractions, I had to become creative!!!! Even invented “magic one”.. I think there’s a potential poem out there. Just think the therapy you could give yourself if you could learn to write poems about math. I actually love some parts of math…..then I am lost. I went to college in Saratoga. It was so different in my era. But loved it. Do you get back there? PS Am a big guacamole fan. Favorite fractions teacher story: Years ago attempted to teach equivalent fractions to a boy who was a great athlete but struggled with math. So asked him which was bigger 1/2 or 7/8. Then 2/5 or 9/10. Finally I asked about 1/2 and 4/8. He wasn’t sure .chose one then the other….finally slapped himself on the head and smiling said,”its a tie!!!!” You gotta’ help them see it………

  15. Another fun episode, Renee and M.M. Socks. I love M.M.’s altar ego business, and the fact that he divided the glory by having an associate to read his poem. Thanks for adding to and multiplying the fun with your questions and asides, Renee!

  16. HUFF PUFF sorry… I just stopped HUFF PUFF laughing…. You two should be a team. This was an awesome post! I love the pi pie! 🙂

  17. Hi Renee, you are a definitely kindred when it comes to math and repressed memories. What a fantabulously-fractious interview (whatever that means) – this is such a niche area and I am glad how math is made fun and hilarious for those who may be positively dreading the entire notion of numbers and pi (without the e and the flaky crust). Great interview as per usual.

  18. Thank god I didn’t have to trig. I barely made it through Algebra and Geometry. And as for science………….aargh.
    I loved your post. I loved the poem and the activities. What a clever inventive person your are. Thans to Mr. Socks.

  19. My goodness! I never thought to check back for comments! THANK YOU EVERYONE FOR YOUR KIND WORDS!!! I’m so glad you enjoyed Fiesta for Fractions!

  20. I feel this is among the such a lot important information for me.
    And i’m happy studying your article. But wanna observation on some normal issues, The site style is wonderful, the articles is in point of fact nice : D.
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