Associate Professor of English in Creative Writing
Co-Director, Writers Reading Series
Amy Catanzano is a poet and cross-genre writer who moves within and between a range of disciplines, modes, approaches, and forms. In an integrated artistic practice and theory known as quantum poetics, she investigates the groundbreaking intersections of literature, science, and art to reinvent common notions of spacetime, language, and reality. Her creative and scholarly research spans the history of the avant garde and its contemporary literary and artistic subcultures in parallel to physics, poetry, art, and the philosophy of language.
She publishes across genres and is the author of three books, two of which received major national awards, in addition to significant lyric-critical essay projects and digital and post-digital poetry projects. Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella, published by Noemi Press, combines fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, and invented forms. It received the Noemi Press Book Award in Fiction. Her second book, Multiversal, published by Fordham University Press, received 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. Her first book of poetry, iEpiphany, was published by Anne Waldman’s independent press. Her digital poem on wave-particle duality, created using 3D Poetry Editor software developed in The Netherlands, appeared in an exhibition, The Gravity of Words, at the Rotterdam Poetry International Festival and the Oslo Poesifilm Festival for Digital and Visual Poetry. A recent chapbook of her work published by the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University, where she was Poet-in-Residence for a week, explores poetry through the context of topological quantum computing. Her hybrid lyric-critical essays on quantum poetics have appeared on Jerome Rothenberg’s literary website, Poems and Poetics; in a Commentary Series on quantum poetics is Jacket2, the online journal of modern and contemporary poetry and poetics at the University of Pennsylvania; and in #Nodos, a Spanish-language, international anthology on the relationship between science, art, and literature. Her creative work has been published in literary journals such as Conjunctions, Denver Quarterly, and New American Writing. Her poetry has been taught in the U.S., Europe, and Australia and has been the subject of critical study by scholars. She regularly gives poetry readings and talks on poetry and science in the United States and elsewhere.
As part of her work in quantum poetics, she conducts an investigative poetics by visiting scientific research centers, where she tours experiments, speaks with scientists about the intersections of poetry, art, and science, and gives poetry readings and talks. These visits provide her inspiration and opportunities to enhance her studies in science, but they also allow for exchanges where she can speak with scientists on how literature and art relate to science. She has been an official visitor at the world’s most renowned physics center, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, in Switzerland with an arts and humanities grant from Wake Forest University. In Spain, she visited an experiment conducting neutrino and dark matter research at the Canfranc Underground Laboratory in the Pyrenees and gave a lecture and poetry reading at the Mestizajes Programme in art, science, and literature at the Donostia International Physics Center in San Sebastián. In the United States, she has been an official visitor at the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, and elsewhere. With a new grant from Wake Forest, she will conduct research on the Dark Energy Survey at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in the Chilean Andes. Additionally, she has received a grant funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and awarded by the Wake Forest University Humanities Institute to convene Entanglements: A Conference on the Intersections of Poetry, Science, and Art at Wake Forest in May 2019.
An associate professor of English in Creative Writing, Poetry, and the poet-in-residence at Wake Forest, she teaches undergraduate poetry workshops in the Creative Writing minor and graduate poetry workshops in the English Department’s M.A. program. As a faculty co-sponsor of the English Department’s student reading series, 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 building and 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 that emphasizes experimental and contemplative approaches to writing, co-founded by Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, and Diane di Prima at Naropa University in Colorado. At Naropa, she designed and taught innovative courses in the MFA and BA programs, including cross-genre writing workshops such as “The Imaginary Present,” which she named after an essay by the French absurdist writer Alfred Jarry. Other courses she created include a hybrid writing and literature class, “Women Writers, Open Texts,” which drew from Lyn Hejinian’s theory on the open text. She was the first faculty member at Naropa to design a course focused exclusively on online audio archives of writers reading their work. She also regularly taught a traditional literature course in nineteenth-century U.S. literature. She still occasionally teaches in Naropa’s renowned Summer Writing Program, offering week-long courses on topics such as quantum poetics and invented languages. In addition to teaching at Naropa, she served as the administrative director of the Writing and Poetics Department and managing director of Bombay Gin, Naropa’s literary journal, where she mentored student editors. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.
M.F.A. Iowa Writers’ Workshop, University of Iowa
B.A. Colorado State University
Areas of Interest
Poetry and poetics
Cross-genre writing, experimental fiction, creative nonfiction
Theoretical and experimental physics with special interests in quantum theory, string theory, the Standard Model, relativity, dark matter, dark energy, neutrinos, astroparticle physics, cosmology, and high-energy particle physics
The intersections of literature, science, and art
History of the avant garde and contemporary literary and artistic 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: A Quantum Supercomputer Poem,” is a post-digital poem that explores topological quantum computation in relation to poetry and quipu knots. It was created and presented in a lecture and poetry reading at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University as part of a week-long visit as the inaugural Poet-in-Residence. A chapbook of the poem with photographic documentation and a Statement of Poetics outlining Catanzano’s process has been printed and distributed.
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 in a chapter on “Complexity and Chaos” appears in a Spanish edition of #Nodos (Next Door Publishers, 2017), an international anthology on science, art, and literature. #Nodos was 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 on wave-particle duality, created using 3D Poetry Editor software developed in The Netherlands, appeared in an exhibition, The Gravity of Words, at the Rotterdam Poetry International Festival and the Oslo Poesifilm Festival for Digital and Visual Poetry.
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 18 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
Recipient, Wake Forest University, Humanities Institute, Reynolda Conference Grant, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a $20,000 competitive award for the Engaged Humanities to convene Entanglements: A Conference on the Intersections of Poetry, Science, and Art in May 2019. Distinguished participants will be Will Alexander (poet), Dr. Madhur Anand (poet and ecologist), Rae Armantrout (poet), Dr. Juan José Gómez Cadenas (poet, novelist, and astroparticle physicist), Andrew Joron (poet), Dr. Eduardo Kac (artist), Dr. Mark Kruse (quantum physicist), Dr. Ming-Qian Ma (scholar of poetry and poetics in relation to art, philosophy, and science), Ed Roberson (poet), and Anne Waldman (poet).
Recipient, Wake Forest University, Interdisciplinary Performance and the Liberal Arts Center (IPLACe) Grant, for a Collaborative Research and Development Residency with Amy Catanzano and The Yoggs (Chris Yon/Taryn Griggs). The residency is an artistic dialogue and experiment to see what is created by exploring where the methodologies of ‘pataphysics, which Alfred Jarry defined as “the science of imaginary solutions,” align and conflict with the novelty techniques and problematizations of poetry and postmodern dance.
Recipient, Wake Forest University, Archie Fund for the Arts and Humanities Award in support of travel to Chile. Catanzano will visit the Cerro-Tololo Inter-American Observatory, a division of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Chile, to conduct creative and scholarly research on the Dark Energy Survey, an international, scientific effort that is mapping hundreds of millions of galaxies, studying dark energy, and exploring the 14-billion-year history of cosmic expansion.
Recipient, Wake Forest University, Summer Research Award, in support of a book manuscript on the intersections of poetry and science.
Recipient, Wake Forest University, Dunn-Riley Faculty Development Award to attend the conference of the Society for Literature, the Sciences, and the Arts in Toronto.
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.
Recipient, Wake Forest University, Archie Fund for the Arts and Humanities Award in support of travel to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland and related creative and scholarly research. Catanzano spent one week at CERN speaking with physicists, visiting on-site exhibits, visiting the CERN Archive, and more for her poetry and creative projects in quantum poetics.
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.
Recipient, PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry for Multiversal.
Recipient, Fordham University Press’ Poets Out Loud Prize, selected by Michael Palmer, for Multiversal.
Current and Previous Courses Taught at Wake Forest University
ENG/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)