Having a way with words

N.C. Poet Laureate shares stories about life, sports, religion
Apr. 16, 2014 @ 07:52 PM

WARRENTON — Warren County Memorial Library celebrated National Library Week with N.C. Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti.

After visiting Warren Middle School on Wednesday, Bathanti — who serves as the seventh such ambassador — stopped at the library to share his work with more than 20 guests.

“We already very much love Warren County and Warrenton,” Bathanti said to open the reading.

Stories he introduced featured past accounts of his relationship with his parents, sports victories and losses, his Catholic upbringing and his work as a VISTA volunteer with the North Carolina Department of Correction.

“This man really painted the picture about his poems,” said Michelle Bugg, a professor at Granville Community College. “The inflection in his voice and his descriptive narrative really makes you feel like you are there. I’ve been to top lectures at Princeton and Yale, but this is the best presentation that I have been to so far.”

Guests gauged his stories with occasional interruptions to express their shared love for poetry and ask to Bathanti questions about his writing process.

“My writing process is rather messy,” Bathanti said. “It’s whenever I have the time.”

Bathanti is a professor at Appalachian State University and award-winning poet and author.

His work received many accolades throughout his career, such as the Carolina Novel Award in 2001 for “East Liberty” and the Novello Literary Award in 2006 for “Coventry.”

He was the recipient of literary fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council for poetry in 1994 and for fiction in 2009.

Bathanti was installed as N.C.’s poet laureate in September 2013, a honor the governor awards to a poet who produces exceptional poetry and who actively advocates the preservation of creative arts.

“I really enjoyed his narrative poetics,” poet Thomas Park said. “It was a great opportunity to have a poet laureate in Warren County.”


Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.