Award winning poet, professor and advocate for literacy, Joseph Bathanti, of Vilas, has been named North Carolina’s Poet Laureate by Governor Bev Perdue.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.