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NC Poet Laureate featured at Visiting Writers’ Series

Rocky Mount, NC- North Carolina Poet Laureate, Joseph Bathanti will headline the popular Visiting Writers’ Series at North Carolina Wesleyan College.   On Wednesday, February 27 the award winning poet, novelist and professor will present and read from his works at 7 pm in the Carleton Board Room of the Dunn Center on the Rocky Mount campus. The public event is free and includes a book signing and sale, as well as light refreshments.

NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti

Bathanti is a professor of creative writing at Appalachian State University.  In addition, he serves as the director of the Writing in the Field Program and as a Writer-In-Residence.  He has taught writing workshops in prisons for over three decades, and has published seven books of poetry, including This Metal (2012), Restoring Sacred Art (2010), and Land of Amnesia (2009).  He has written a book of short stories, The High Heart (2007), and two novels, Coventry (2006) and East Liberty (2001).

Bathanti has received numerous honors, including the 2012 Ragan-Rubin Award from the N.C. Teachers Association, The Linda Flowers Prize, and The Sherwood Anderson Award. His writings have appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Texas Review, California Quarterly, Cincinnati Poetry Review, the Connecticut Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and New Letters.

In August 2012, Governor Beverly Perdue selected Joseph Bathanti as poet laureate for North Carolina.  He is the seventh poet to earn this honor.

Randall Kenan, associate professor of English at UNC-CH served as chair of the selection committee.  He said, “[Bathanti’s] 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.”

The Visiting Writers’ Series has been an integral part of the cultural life of NC Wesleyan College since the 1960s.  Each year, the college invites several writers to read from their work and meet with students and community members.  The list of presenters includes Karen Bender, Justin Cronin, Kaye Gibbons, Alan Gurganus, and many more.  Recently, the Series has focused on writers from Eastern North Carolina or the Black Mountain School. The Series is supported in part by the Eleanor Hoyt Smith Memorial Reading Fund.

Eleanor Hoyt Smith

Eleanor Hoyt Smith

Eleanor Hoyt Smith was an informal member of the college community for a long time.  During the last seven years of her life, she devoted her time and interest primarily in the Pearsall Library and the Visiting Writers’ Series.  Her family and friends chose to honor her memory by supporting a bi-annual memorial reading within the Series.

NC Wesleyan Professor Emeritus Leverett T. Smith, Jr. is Eleanor Smith’s son.  He served as the director of the Series from 1976 until 1992.  “My mother loved the library and the writers’ series,” he said. “She had a great respect for local history and the telling of stories.  We are delighted to have Joseph Bathanti participate in the program that honors her legacy.”

For more information about the NC Wesleyan College Visiting Writers’ Series, visit the NC Wesleyan College website or contact Professor James Bowers by email at  To learn more about Joseph Bathanti, visit this website: