Exploring the questions of the universe through poetry and science

Table of contents

Table of Contents

Time is Not an Arrow: An Introduction to Quantum Poetics
Writing the Speed of Light
The Multiverse
The New Spacetime
’Pataphysics is an Iridescent Veil
Third Mind
The Imaginary Present
The Reader as a Quantum Observer
Physics of the Impossible
The Poetry Accelerator
The Poetics of Scale
Just Schrödinger the Text!
Poetry & Science: The Two Most Incompatible Disciplines
Spin the Kaleidoscope
Poetry and the Fourth Dimension
The People of the Fifth Dimension
The Positron Passport
To Be in Any Form
The Password to the Quantum Supercomputer Poem Will Be NCC-1701
The Violet Doorway
Poetry in Superposition
The Subtle Web of Thought
Metaphor and Decay
The Origami Time Machine
The Physics of Existence
The Matrix


The Imaginary Present by award-winning poet and professor Amy Catanzano explores cutting-edge scientific fields such as particle physics and astrophysics, and branches of physics such as quantum theory and relativity, through a poetic vision equally loyal to the imagination and rationality. Drawing upon her groundbreaking research and artist residencies at major scientific research centers like CERN and the U.S. National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab, as well as talks and poetry readings at esteemed institutions, Catanzano invites enthusiasts of poetry and science to consider what can be achieved through greater collaboration between these fields. 

In linked chapters that fluidly blend lyric essay, literary and scientific analysis, poetry, theory, and memoir, The Imaginary Present offers refreshing new insights on a wide range of thinkers over the past 100 years, including poets Rae Armantrout and M. NourbeSe Philip, novelists Alfred Jarry and Virginia Woolf, comic book writer Grant Morrison, and physicists Albert Einstein and Werner Heisenberg. The introduction explores why poetry and physics are capable of jointly investigating our most fundamental questions about the universe and discusses the history of the art-science connection in addition to the author’s own journey. In searching for the groundbreaking ways that artists and scientists can collaborate, The Imaginary Present offers readers both reasoned grounding and poetic framing for an interdisciplinary poetics and praxis based on science.

Amy Catanzano is a professor and the poet-in-residence at Wake Forest University and the lead co-founder of The Entanglements Network, a global collective exploring the intersections of poetry and science. Author of three previous books, her honors include the PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry and Noemi Press Book Award in Fiction.