The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)


August 30, 2012

Joseph Bathanti Named Poet Laureate for North Carolina by Governor Perdue

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.

 Poet Laureate.”

 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.

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