Touring Artists Directory Profile
Performances feature poetry and fiction readings for any audience. Fee: $600 per reading, negotiable, plus expenses.
Featured Artist: Joseph Bathanti
Award winning poet, professor and advocate for literacy, Joseph Bathanti, of Vilas, will be installed as North Carolina’s new Poet Laureate on Thursday.
The celebration is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. at the State Capitol. The event is free, and open to the public. He succeeds Cathy Smith Bowers, who has written a special poem for Bathanti, marking the end of her tenure. North Carolina’s seventh poet laureate, Bathanti was named the state’s new poet laureate by Governor Beverly Perdue last month.
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 excellence.”
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 program.
“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 experiences.”
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.
Other Poet Laureate Press Materials: