Assistant Professor of English in Creative Writing
Co-Director, Dillon Johnston Writers Reading Series
Office: C 314 Tribble Hall
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 subcultures in parallel to the history of physics and its under-acknowledged relationship to the philosophy of language. In this research, she explores subjects such as Alfred Jarry’s ’pataphysics, Werner Heisenberg’s essays on language and reality, Bern Porter’s SCIART, physics in the current and last century, other poets and artists who investigate these subjects, and more.
Catanzano is the author of three books. Her most recent, Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella, published by Noemi Press in 2014, combines narrative and experimental fiction, lineated and visual poetry, memoir, and invented literary forms. It received the Noemi Press Book Award. Her second book, Multiversal, published by Fordham University Press in 2009, 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 guest judge and poet Michael Palmer for the Poets Out Loud Prize at Fordham University Press. Catanzano’s first book, iEpiphany, was published by poet Anne Waldman’s press, Erudite Fangs Editions, in 2008. Her creative work has been published widely in literary journals such as Conjunctions, Denver Quarterly, and New American Writing. Her speculative essays and essay-poems on quantum poetics appear on the literary website of poet Jerome Rothenberg, Poems and Poetics; in Jacket2, the online journal of modern and contemporary poetry and poetics at the University of Pennsylvania; and elsewhere. Her digital poem on wave-particle duality was created using 3D Poetry Editor software and appeared in an exhibition, The Gravity of Words, at the Rotterdam Poetry International Festival in The Netherlands. She regularly gives poetry readings and talks in the United States and has given poetry readings and talks in Spain and France.
Within the innovative tradition of investigative poetics, Catanzano has conducted research at scientific research centers for particle physics, dark matter, and radio astronomy. She has spent a week at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), in Geneva, Switzerland, with the support of an Archie Fund for the Arts and Humanities award from Wake Forest University, where she teaches. In Spain, she has been an invited guest of physicist and poet Juan José Gómez Cadenas at the Scientific Review of the NEXT Experiment in dark matter research at the Canfranc Underground Laboratory. She has also given a lecture and poetry reading in the Mestizajes Programme in art, science, and literature at the Donostia International Physics Center in San Sebastián, Spain. In the United States, Catanzano 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, among other activities. In the upcoming academic year, she has been invited for visits to the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University, a center for theoretical physics and mathematics, and will be an artist-in-residence there during spring 2018.
An assistant professor of English in Creative Writing and the poet-in-residence in the English Department at Wake Forest University, Catanzano teaches undergraduate and graduate poetry writing workshops. She enjoys mentoring students and teaching a range of approaches to writing poetry. Her workshops are designed to be supportive and rigorous classroom communities where students reflect on the creative, personal, philosophical, theoretical, cultural, social, scientific, and political implications of working with language as an artistic practice. Offering students practical grounding and an exploratory space in which to write poetry, read published books of poetry, and respond to the poetry of their peers, her workshops prepare students for sustained creative activity inside the classroom and beyond. As a faculty sponsor of the Student Reading Series in the English Department, co-director of the Dillon Johnston Writers Reading Series, and former director of the Creative Writing minor, Catanzano is committed to supporting a thriving literary and arts community at Wake Forest.
Prior to Wake Forest, Catanzano taught in the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, a writing program emphasizing innovative and contemplative approaches to the literary arts, co-founded by poets Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman at Naropa University. She served as administrative director of the Writing and Poetics Department and managing director of the literary journal. She still occasionally teaches in Naropa’s renowned Summer Writing Program. Catanzano has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the esteemed Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa.
MFA Iowa Writers’ Workshop, University of Iowa
BA Colorado State University
Areas of Interest
Poetry and poetics
The intersections of literature, science, and art
Cross-genre and cross-cultural texts
History of the avant garde and contemporary subcultures
Theoretical and experimental physics
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
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)
Poems, short fiction, and cross-genre works are 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
2017: 3D Poetry Editor
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.
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—this feature explores how scientific discourse might be incorporated by poets not simply as a source of metaphor but as an independent discipline.
2009-2011: Quantum Poetics: Writing the Speed of Light
“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
2016: Archie Fund for the Arts and Humanities award from Wake Forest University in support of travel to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and related research
2014: 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
2012: Noemi Press Book Award in Fiction for Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella
2010: PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry for Multiversal
2007-2008: Fordham University, Poets Out Loud Prize for Multiversal, selected by Michael Palmer
2014: Entropy Magazine
Types of Courses Taught at WFU
CRW 285 Poetry Workshop (undergraduate poetry workshop)
CRW 383/683 Theory and Practice of Poetry Writing (advanced undergraduate and graduate poetry workshop)