Associate Professor of English in Creative Writing
Co-Director, Writers Reading Series
Amy Catanzano is a poet and cross-genre writer who explores the intersections of literature, science, and art. In an integrated artistic practice and theory known as “quantum poetics,” she investigates shared principles in poetry and quantum mechanics to reinvent common notions of spacetime, language, and reality. Her creative and scholarly research spans the history of the avant garde and contemporary literary and artistic subcultures in parallel to physics and its under-acknowledged relationship to poetics and the philosophy of language.
She is the author of three books. Her most recent, Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella, published by Noemi Press, combines narrative and experimental fiction, lineated and visual poetry, creative nonfiction and memoir, and invented literary forms. It received the Noemi Press Book Award. Her second book, Multiversal, published by Fordham University Press, received national recognition in the United States as the recipient of the PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry. Prior to this honor, Multiversal was selected by Michael Palmer for the Poets Out Loud Prize at Fordham University Press. Catanzano’s first book, iEpiphany, was published by Anne Waldman’s independent press, Erudite Fangs Editions. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa. Her creative work has been published widely in literary journals such as Conjunctions, Denver Quarterly, and New American Writing. Her essay-poems on quantum poetics appear in Jerome Rothenberg’s Poems and Poetics; Jacket2, the online journal of modern and contemporary poetry and poetics at the University of Pennsylvania; and elsewhere. A digital poem on wave-particle duality that was created using 3D Poetry Editor software appeared in an exhibition, The Gravity of Words, at the Rotterdam Poetry International Festival and the Oslo Poesifilm Festival for Digital and Visual Poetry. Her books have been taught in the U.S., in Europe, and in Australia and have been the subject of critical study by scholars. She regularly gives poetry readings and talks on poetry and science in the United States.
As part of her work in quantum poetics, Catanzano regularly conducts creative and scholarly research at scientific research centers. She has conducted research as an official visitor at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland with the support of an Archie Fund for the Arts and Humanities award from Wake Forest University. In Spain, she has been an invited guest at the NEXT experiment in dark matter research at the Canfranc Underground Laboratory and has given a lecture and poetry reading in the Mestizajes Programme in art, science, and literature at the Donostia International Physics Center. In the United States, she has conducted research as an official visitor at the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, then part of the National Science Foundation’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory network, among other activities. She was the 2018 Poet-in-Residence, a week-long residency, at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University.
An Associate Professor of English in Creative Writing and the Poet-in-Residence at Wake Forest University, she teaches undergraduate and graduate poetry workshops. As a faculty Co-Sponsor of the student reading series in the English Department, Co-Director of the Dillon Johnston Writers Reading Series, and the former Director of the Creative Writing minor at Wake Forest, she is committed to supporting a thriving literary and arts community at Wake Forest and beyond. Prior to teaching at Wake Forest, she taught in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, an internationally celebrated writing program and literary community emphasizing experimental and contemplative approaches to the literary arts that was co-founded by Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, and Diane di Prima at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. At Naropa, she designed and taught hybrid workshop and seminar courses such as “The Imaginary Present,” drawing from an essay by Alfred Jarry, and “Women Writers, Open Texts,” drawing from Lyn Hejinian’s notion of the open text. She also regularly taught a survey course in nineteenth-century U.S. literature and designed a course situated exclusively on online audio archives of poets reading their poetry. In addition to teaching at Naropa, she served as the Administrative Director of the Writing and Poetics Department and Managing Director of the literary journal, where she mentored student editors. She still occasionally teaches in Naropa’s renowned Summer Writing Program, where she has taught courses on quantum poetics and the history of invented and constructed languages.
MFA Iowa Writers’ Workshop, University of Iowa
BA Colorado State University
Areas of Interest
Poetry and poetics
Cross-genre writing, experimental fiction, creative nonfiction
Theoretical and experimental physics
The intersections of literature, science, and art
History of the avant garde and contemporary subcultures
Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella (Noemi Press, 2014)
Multiversal (Fordham University Press, 2009)
iEpiphany (Erudite Fangs Editions, 2008)
Chapbooks, broadsides, and pamphlets
World Lines: A Quantum Supercomputer Poem (Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, 2018)
from Borealis Tesseract in the Fourth Dimension (Perfect Wave, 2017)
Let There Be Love (Spacecraft Press, 2015)
the heartbeat is a fractal (Ahadada Books, 2008)
Creative work is published in print and online literary journals including Supplement, Perfect Wave, Aufgabe, Colorado Review, Conjunctions, Web Conjunctions, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Interim Magazine, Laurel Review, New American Writing, POETBOOK: An Illuminated Project, Tarpaulin Sky Journal, Truck, Poems and Poetics, Volt: A Journal of the Arts, and Washington Square Review.
Selected Projects on Literature, Science, and Art
Amy Catanzano’s poem, “World Lines,” which explores topological quantum computation in relation to poetry and quipu knots, was presented at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University as part of a week-long visit at the Simons Center as the inaugural Poet-in-Residence.
Amy Catanzano presents, “Quantum Poetics: A Talk and Poetry Reading,” at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University.
A poem and essay by Amy Catanzano appears in a Spanish edition of #Nodos (Next Door Publishers, 2017), an international anthology on science, art, and literature published in conjunction with the Mestizajes Programme in literature, art, and science at the Donostia International Physics Center in San Sebastián, Spain. An English edition of the anthology is forthcoming.
Amy Catanzano’s digital poem, “Wavicles,” on wave-particle duality, was in the 3D Poetry Editor exhibition, The Gravity of Words, at the Rotterdam Poetry International Festival in The Netherlands and in the Oslo Poesifilm Festival for Digital and Visual Poetry in Norway.
This commentary series on Quantum Poetics by Amy Catanzano for Jacket2, the University of Pennsylvania’s online journal of modern and contemporary poetry and poetics, presents 17 short essays on the intersections of poetry and science. A reprinting of “Black W/Holes: A History of Brief Time” by poet M. NourbeSe Philip and a discussion on poetry and science between Catanzano and poet Andrew Joron are also presented.
“Like a Metaphor,” Gilbert Adair’s feature in Jacket2 on poetry and science, comes together as a response to a podcast on Anew by poet Louis Zukofsky. Collecting poems, critiques, and dialogues between eleven poets who share an interest in science—Rae Armantrout, Amy Catanzano, John Cayley, Tina Darragh, Marcella Durand, Allen Fisher, James Harvey, Peter Middleton, Evelyn Reilly, and Joan Retallack—the feature explores how scientific discourse might be incorporated by poets not simply as a source of metaphor but as an independent discipline.
“Quantum Poetics: Writing the Speed of Light” is Amy Catanzano’s four-part essay on quantum poetics published from 2009 to 2011 by Jerome Rothenberg in Poems and Poetics.
Selected Awards and Honors
Archie Fund for the Arts and Humanities award from Wake Forest University in support of travel to the Cerro-Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile to conduct creative and scholarly research on the Dark Energy Survey, an international effort that is mapping hundreds of millions of galaxies, studying dark energy, and exploring the 14-billion-year history of cosmic expansion.
Summer Research Award, Wake Forest University, in support of a book manuscript on the intersections of poetry and science.
Poet-in-Residence, Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, Stony Brook University, a week-long residency that includes a talk and poetry reading, “World Lines,” featuring a poem Catanzano developed for the Simons Center that explores topological quantum computation and quipu knots.
Archie Fund for the Arts and Humanities award from Wake Forest University in support of travel to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland and related creative and scholarly research.
Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella is included by Alastair Brotchie in the permanent collection of the ‘Pataphysical Museum at The London Institute of ‘Pataphysics.
Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella receives the Noemi Press Book Award in Fiction.
Multiversal receives the PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry.
Multiversal receives the Poets Out Loud Prize, selected by Michael Palmer, at Fordham University Press.
Current and Previous Courses Taught at Wake Forest University
CRW 683 Theory and Practice of Poetry Writing (graduate poetry workshop)
CRW 383 Theory and Practice of Poetry Writing (advanced undergraduate poetry workshop)
CRW 285 Poetry Workshop (undergraduate poetry workshop)
CRW 286 Short Story Workshop (undergraduate fiction workshop)