Thursday, August 30, 2012 —
Award winning poet, professor and advocate for literacy, Joseph
Bathanti, of Vilas, has been named North Carolina’s Poet Laureate by
Governor Bev Perdue.
“Joseph Bathanti is an award-winning poet and novelist with a robust
commitment to social causes. He first came to North Carolinato work in
the VISTA program and has taught writing workshops in prisons for 35
years,” Perdue said. “As North Carolina’s new Poet Laureate he plans
to work with veterans to share their stories through poetry — a
valuable and generous project.”
North Carolina’s seventh poet laureate, Bathanti will be installed
during a public celebration scheduled Thursday, Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m.
at the State Capitol. The event is free. He succeeds Cathy Smith
Bowers, the state's poet laureate from 2010 to June 30, 2012.
“Joseph Bathanti brings a deep appreciation of our state’s diverse
communities, geographies and traditions to his new role as an
ambassador of North Carolina literature,” said Department of Cultural
Resources Secretary Linda A. Carlisle. “His appointment as Poet
Laureate is a wonderful new chapter in North Carolina’s rich literary
Bathanti is a professor of creative writing at Appalachian State
University where he is also Director of Writing in the Field and
Writer-in-Residence in the University's Watauga Global Community. He
has taught writing workshops in prisons for more than three decades
and is former chair of the N.C. Writers’ Network Prison project.
“I can’t imagine a better place in the United States to be a writer
than North Carolina,” Bathanti says. “There is no place richer in
literature and no place that has celebrated writers in quite the same
way as our state does.”
Bathanti’s books of poetry include /This Metal/ (St. Andrews College
Press, 1996 and Press 53, 2012), /Restoring Sacred Art/ (Star Cloud
Press, 2010), /Land of Amnesia/ (Press 53, 2009), /Anson County/
(Williams & Simpson, 1989 and Parkway Publishers, 2005), /The Feast of
All Saints/ (Nightshade press, 1994) and /Communion Partners/
(Briarpatch Press, 1986). He has published two novels, /Coventry/
(Novello Festival Press, 2006) and /East Liberty/ (Banks Channel
Books, 2001) along with a book of short stories, /The High Heart/
(Eastern Washington University Press, 2007).
“His award-winning body of work is a powerful mix of old forms and new
forms which has gained national and international recognition, and
which adds up to a rich interpretation of modern American life,” said
Randall Kenan, associate professor of English, UNC-Chapel Hill and
chair of the poet laureate selection committee. “Also a prose writer
of great accomplishment, Joseph’s novels and short stories and plays
resonate with North Carolina's long tradition of literary bounty and
A native of Pittsburgh, Penn., Bathanti arrived in North Carolina in
1976 as a member of Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), a
national service program designed to fight poverty, and he never left
the state. Assigned to work in Huntersville Prison in Mecklenburg
County, he met fellow volunteer and future wife, Joan Carey on his
first day of training. They have been married for 35 years.
For four years starting in 1985, Bathanti shared his talents as a poet
and writer in rural Anson, Union and McDowell counties through the
North Carolina Visiting Artist Program, a collaboration between the
N.C. Arts Council and the N.C. Community College System running from
1971 to 1995, which brought a diverse range of artists to small towns
and rural communities across the state. He wrote a non-fiction book
about the program, They Changed the State: The Legacy of North
Carolina’s Visiting Artists 1971-1995 on the 25th anniversary of the
“The North Carolina Poet Laureate is one of the state’s longest
running and most important ways that we celebrate and share our state
literary heritage with citizens,” said Wayne Martin, Executive
Director, N.C. Arts Council. “Joseph’s work is accessible because he
writes about topics that touch all of us: family, home and personal
Martin added, “His idea to work with veterans puts him in good stead
to be Poet Laureate for North Carolina.”
Bathanti is a two-time recipient of Literature Fellowships from the
N.C. Arts Council (1994 and 2009) and will receive the 2012
Ragan-Rubin Award, made to an outstanding North Carolina writer, from
the N.C. English Teachers Association (NCETA). He has received
numerous other awards including the 2002 Linda Flowers Prize, awarded
annually by the North Carolina Humanities Council; 2006 Novello
Literary Award; 2002 Sherwood Anderson Award; 2006 Spokane Prize for
Short Fiction, to name a few. His fiction, nonfiction and poetry have
appeared in numerous journals including /Carolina Quarterly, Texas
Review, California Quarterly, Cincinnati Poetry Review, Connecticut
Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and New Letters.
“A superb poet, a dedicated teacher, and a warm and generous person,
Bathanti is both an ideal public servant and advocate for poetry and
literacy," says Dana Gioia, celebrated poet and former Chairman of the
National Endowment for the Arts. “He is an outstanding choice for N.C.
Bathanti will be installed as N.C. Poet Laureate in a ceremony at the
North Carolina State Capitol, One Edenton Street in downtown Raleigh,
Thursday, Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m. The free event is open to the public.
To arrange an interview contact: Rebecca Moore (919) 807-6530.
Thursday, August 30, 2012 —
Award winning poet, professor and advocate for literacy, Joseph
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