North Carolina’s Poet Laureate is returning to Warren Wilson College, where he received his master’s degree in poetry, to deliver the 2013 Commencement Address.
Joseph Bathanti, 1991 graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers, will give the main address at the May 18 Commencement that begins at 10 a.m. on Sunderland Lawn.
“I’m so looking forward to giving the Commencement talk at Warren Wilson,” he said.
Bathanti, who lives in Vilas, N.C., is an award-winning poet, professor and literacy advocate. He was formally installed as North Carolina’s seventh Poet Laureate in September 2012.
A native of Pittsburgh, Bathanti came to North Carolina in 1976 to work in Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), a national service program designed to fight poverty. He never left. Assigned to work in Huntersville Prison in Mecklenburg County, he met fellow volunteer and future wife, Joan Carey, on his first day of training.
The N.C. Arts Council website quotes Bathanti as observing, “I can’t imagine a better place in the United States to be a writer than North Carolina. There is no place richer in literature and no place that has celebrated writers in quite the same way as our state does.”
Among Bathanti’s published works are two novels, a short story collection and several books of poetry. He is a professor of creative writing at Appalachian State University, where he also is 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.
The 2013 Commencement at Warren Wilson will be the 45th at which the college has awarded bachelor’s degrees. Warren Wilson began academically transitioning from a two-year to four-year institution in 1967, when it first offered upper-division classes.