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A common way to characterize the shift from modern to contemporary American poetry is as a turn from sweeping, impersonal myths and symbols to more locally grounded, experiential stories and images. Science and technology are often grouped together, but their roles in contemporary poetry are quite distinct, particularly so now that technology has begun to change the ways in which poems are written, circulated, and read. This chapter provides a historical overview of poetry's engagement with science. In the early twentieth century, poets began to embrace science more whole heartedly, often drawing parallels between the work of major discoverers like Marie Curie and Albert Einstein and the literary innovations being carried out under the banner of modernism. A.R. Ammons insists on the equal validity of prayer and cell, soul and chemistry. Frederick Seidel has ventured into the complexities of modern physics than most of his peers, particularly in The Cosmos Poems.
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