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North Carolina Poet Laureate, Dr. Joseph Bathanti to speak at Lanier Library March 25

Published 7:43pm Monday, March 18, 2013

The North Carolina Poet Laureate, Dr. Joseph Bathanti will speak at the Lanier Library on Monday, March 25 at noon.

An award-winning poet, novelist, and teacher, Joseph Bathanti succeeded Tryon’s own Cathy Smith Bowers to the position of NC Poet Laureate in June 2012 when he was awarded the position by Governor Bev Perdue.

The North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Linda A. Carlisle said of him, “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. His appointment as Poet Laureate is a wonderful new chapter in North Carolina’s rich literary history.”

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bathanti first came to North Carolina with the VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) program, where he was assigned to work in Huntersville Prison in Mecklenburg County.

He and his wife of 35 years, Joan Carey, whom he met as a fellow volunteer at Huntersville Prison, live in Vilas in Watauga County. He 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. After receiving BA and MA degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, he came to North Carolina and received an MFA degree from Warren Wilson College.  He will be returning to Warren Wilson in May to give the Commencement Address.

Bathanti has published two novels, Coventry (Novello Festival Press, 2006) and East Liberty (Banks Channel Books, 2001) and a book of short stories, The High Heart (Eastern Washington University Press, 2007).  His published poetry includes 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).

In discussing Bathanti’s book Land of Amnesia, Sydney Lea of The New England Review says:  “In his title poem, Joseph Bathanti writes that ‘Even a mincing moon off cotton will yield/light enough to walk by.’ There is something of pale moonlight in all these poems, by which I scarcely mean that they are vague. Rather, things as ordinary as field cotton are seen in a way so original as to seem magical. The author has his rhetorical reasons to call this masterful book Land of Amnesia, but in fact that author forgets nothing. …. The delicious, full-throated lyricism of this volume would alone be enough to recommend it. That it grapples so bravely and brilliantly with what I must feebly call Things That Matter makes it indispensable.”

This program is part of the Lanier Library’s Brown Bag Lunch series (normally held on Tuesdays).  It is free and everyone is welcome.

– article submitted by Frances Flynn

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