N.C. poet laureate visits Anson

Imari Scarbrough

February 21, 2014

Famed poet Joseph Bathanti visited Wadesboro’s South Piedmont Community College campus on Tuesday.

Bathanti is the current North Carolina Poet Laureate. He traveled Anson, Union and McDowell counties with the North Carolina Visiting Artist Program from 1985 to 1989 and took Tuesday night to offer his reflections on the time he spent here.

Bathanti told guests that returning to Anson was akin to returning home. He welcomed several county residents he knows from his time here and read poetry from his book, “Anson County.” His poems were reminiscent of people and places he discovered while staying in Anson and immortalized in poems such as “The Ingram Plantation,” “Anson County,” “Icons,” “The George Washington Little House,” “Entering an Abandoned House,” and “Leaving Anson County.”

He also read poems that reflected on other times in his life, from quieter events such as baptizing children and advising students at Appalachian State to more memorable events including time working in prison outreach. “Julian,” “Advising,” and “Home” were just a few of the poems he read from his book, “Land of Amnesia.”

Many of his poems reflect his time traveling North Carolina and his service as a VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America), when he did prison outreach. His works have earned several awards, including the Carolina Novel Award for his semi-autobiographical “East Liberty” and the Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for his newest work, the poetry collection “Restoring Sacred Art.”

Although Bathanti currently works as a creative writing professor and the writer-in-residence at the Watauga Global Community at Appalachian State University, as well as traveling as the state Poet Laureate, he is working on a few personal writing projects, he said.

His many poems can be found his his poetry collections, “Communion Partners,” “Anson County, “The Feast of All Saints,” “This Metal,” “Land of Amnesia,” and “Restoring Sacred Art.” His fiction works include “East Liberty,” “Coventry,” and “The High Heart.” His non-fiction book is “They Changed the State: The Legacy of North Carolina’s Visiting Artists, 1971-95.”