Associate Professor of English in Creative Writing
Co-Director, Writers Reading Series
Amy Catanzano is a writer who works between a range of disciplines and genres, often with a focus on poetry, art, and branches of science such as physics and astronomy. Her integrated artistic theory, interpretive framework, and writing praxis called quantum poetics, which explores the innovative intersections of literature, art, and science, spans the history of the avant garde and its contemporary literary and artistic subcultures in parallel to science and the philosophy of language. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Catanzano is an associate professor of English in creative writing and the poet-in-residence at Wake Forest University.
She is the author of three books of poetry and cross-genre works, two of which have received major national awards, in addition to significant creative nonfiction and digital poetry. Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella (2014) combines fiction with poetry and received the Noemi Press Book Award. Multiversal (2009) received the PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry. Prior to this honor, Multiversal was selected by Michael Palmer for the POL Poetry Prize at Fordham University Press. Her first book, iEpiphany, was published by Anne Waldman’s independent press. Catanzano is also the author of the chapbook, World Lines, published by the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University, and Wavicles, a digital poem appearing internationally in the 3D Poetry Editor exhibition, The Gravity of Words. Her essays and essay-poems on poetry and science appear in publications such as Poems and Poetics, Jacket2, and elsewhere. Her poetry and cross-genre fiction have been published in numerous literary journals such as Conjunctions, Colorado Review, and New American Writing and in anthologies. Her books are taught in the U.S., Europe, Australia, and elsewhere and have been the subject of critical study by scholars. She gives readings and talks on poetry, art, and science in the U.S. and elsewhere.
As part of her literary practice as a writer, Catanzano regularly conducts site visits to scientific research centers and draws upon these experiences for her projects. With arts and humanities grants from Wake Forest University, she has conducted research at CERN in Switzerland and on the Dark Energy Survey in Chile at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, a division of the National Science Foundation’s National Optical Astronomy Observatory. In August 2019, she returned to CERN as a research artist with Arts at CERN and guest of the U.S. outreach division for the ATLAS experiment. She also has been an official visitor at the NEXT neutrino experiment at the Canfranc Underground Laboratory and the Donostia International Physics Center in Spain, the Green Bank Telescope at the former National Radio Astronomy Observatory site in West Virginia, and the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook University in New York.
With an award from Wake Forest that was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Catanzano convened Entanglements: A Conference on the Intersections of Poetry, Science, and Art at Wake Forest in May 2019. In addition to teaching creative writing workshops and directing theses in the undergraduate creative writing minor and MA program in the Department of English, she is co-director of the Writers Reading Series and a faculty founder of the department’s student reading series. She served as the inaugural director of the creative writing minor.
Prior to teaching at Wake Forest, Catanzano taught for five years in the undergraduate and MFA programs of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, an internationally celebrated writing program and literary community that emphasizes experimental and contemplative approaches to creative writing, co-founded by Allen Ginsberg, Anne Waldman, and Diane di Prima at Naropa University in Colorado, where she grew up. She also served as the administrative director of the Writing and Poetics Department and managing director of Bombay Gin, Naropa’s literary journal. She still occasionally teaches in Naropa’s renowned Summer Writing Program.
MFA Iowa Writers’ Workshop, University of Iowa
BA Colorado State University
Areas of Interest
Poetry and poetics
Experimental fiction, creative nonfiction, cross-genre forms
Physics with special interests in quantum theory, Standard Model and beyond Standard Model phenomenology, high-energy particle physics, quantum computing, astroparticle physics, cosmology, dark matter, and dark energy
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
World Lines: A Quantum Supercomputer Poem. Simons Center for Geometry and Physics. 2018
Let There Be Love. Spacecraft Press, 2015
the heartbeat is a fractal. Ahadada Books, 2008
Creative work is published in La Vague, 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, Poems and Poetics, Volt: A Journal of the Arts and elsewhere.
Selected Interviews, Articles, and Reviews
Interview: “Quantum understanding in the works of Amy Catanzano,” SciArt Magazine
Podcast: “The Poetry of the Dark Energy Survey,” 365 Days of Astronomy
Article: “Poetry takes on quantum physics,” Physics
Article: “Artist explains quantum physics through poetry,” The Next Web
Interview: “Impossible poems at invisible scales,” Jacket2
Review: “Starlight in Two Million: A Neo-Scientific Novella,” Rain Taxi
Selected Projects on Literature, Science, and Art
World Lines and “Two science-inspired talks by a poet and philosopher.” Simons Center for Geometry and Physics. Amy Catanzano’s World Lines: A Quantum Supercomputer Poem explores topological quantum computation in relation to poetry and Incan quipu knots. The project is featured in “Poetry takes on quantum physics” at Physics by Katherine Wright and “Artist explains quantum physics through poetry” by Tristan Greene at The Next Web. Physics selected Wright’s article on World Lines as one if its 2018 Highlights of the Year.
“Quantum Poetics: A Talk and Poetry Reading,” Simons Center for Geometry and Physics.
#Nodos: Visual poem and essay by Amy Catanzano in the chapter, “Complexity and Chaos,” in the Spanish edition of #Nodos (Next Door Publishers, 2017), an international anthology on science, art, and literature with an English edition forthcoming from Intellect Press in the UK.
Wavicles: 3D Poetry Editor Software: Amy Catanzano’s moving, digital poem, Wavicles, on wave-particle duality, was created using 3D Poetry Editor software. It appeared in an exhibition, The Gravity of Words, at the Rotterdam Poetry International Festival and the Oslo Poesifilm Festival for Digital and Visual Poetry.
Quantum Poetics Commentary Series at Jacket2: Amy Catanzano’s commentaries on quantum poetics at Jacket2, the University of Pennsylvania’s online journal of modern and contemporary poetry and poetics, presents short essays on the intersections of poetry and science. A reprinting of “Black W/Holes: A History of Brief Time” by M. NourbeSe Philip and a discussion on poetry and science between Catanzano and Andrew Joron are also presented.
Like A Metaphor: Ongoing Relations Between Poetry and Science at Jacket2. “Like a Metaphor,” Gilbert Adair’s feature in Jacket2 on poetry and science, comes together as a response to a podcast on Louis Zukofsky’s poem, Anew. 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 as a source of metaphor but as an independent discipline.
Quantum Poetics: Writing the Speed of Light: Amy Catanzano’s “Quantum Poetics: Writing the Speed of Light” is a four-part essay published from 2009 to 2011 by Jerome Rothenberg on his literary website, Poems and Poetics, now distributed by the University of Pennsylvania.
Selected Awards and Honors
Research Artist with Arts at CERN and guest of the U.S. outreach division of the ATLAS experiment at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland, August 2019. Catanzano spent three weeks at CERN conducting research, touring the ATLAS and CMS detectors, speaking with physicists and others, visiting on-site exhibits, and more.
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, May 2019.
Recipient, Wake Forest University, W.C. Archie Endowed Fund for Faculty Excellence award in support of travel to Chile, December 2018. Catanzano visited the Cerro-Tololo Inter-American Observatory to conduct creative and scholarly research on the Dark Energy Survey.
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 convene and participate in a poetry reading at the conference of the Society for Literature, the Sciences, and the Arts in Toronto.
Recipient, Wake Forest University, W.C. Archie Endowed Fund for Faculty Excellence award in support of travel to the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland. Catanzano spent one week at CERN as an official visitor speaking with physicists, visiting on-site experiments and exhibits, conducting research in the CERN Archive, and more.
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.