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About Joseph Bathanti

A former Poet Laureate of North Carolina and 2019 recipient of the Lee Smith Award, Joseph Bathanti teaches creative writing in Appalachian State University's Department of English and is writer-in-residence for the university’s Watauga Residential College. He is also the university's McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor in Interdisciplinary Education.

Bathanti has authored 10 volumes of poetry, three novels, a short story collection and two books of nonfiction. A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Bathanti describes Pittsburgh as “my beloved home town, but North Carolina is my beloved home state.” He writes about both, his work often referencing his working-class background and paying homage to his parents, who pushed and inspired him to become a college graduate and eventually a college professor. He has given readings and lectures across at colleges and universities across the country, as well as The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Having moved to North Carolina in 1976 as a member of the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) anti-poverty program, Bathanti began what would become a multi-decade endeavor teaching and working on literature projects with correctional facility inmates. He credits this work with teaching him the significance of telling one’s own personal story, and he has facilitated numerous workshops and writing projects for military veterans and their families managing the aftereffects of combat and trauma related to military service. Since January 2016, Bathanti has served as the Charles George Veterans Affairs Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville, N.C.

His works include the 2016 book of poems titled “The 13th Sunday after Pentecost” (Louisiana State University Press) and the novel “Coventry” (Novello Festival Press), winner of the 2006 Novello Literary Award.

Areas of Expertise
Literature and writing
The value of story
Writing workshops with veterans, prisoners and battered women
Southern and ethnic writers, marginalized writers (African-American, LGBTQ, veteran)
New voices in storytelling
Grassroots writing
Writing organizations
Poetry societies
North Carolina through the eyes of Poet Laureate traveling to small towns
N.C. Writers Network, which was once the largest writers network in the U.S.


Present Faculty Member, Appalachian State University College of Arts and Sciences
Present Professor of Creative Writing, Appalachian State University Department of English

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Honors and Awards

  • 2016 North Carolina Award in Literature
  • Poet Laureate of North Carolina, 2012-14
  • Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for the Western Region for the North Carolina Poetry Society, 2011-12
  • Chair of the N.C. Writers’ Network Prison project, 1989-94
  • Literature Fellowships from the N.C. Arts Council in 1994 (poetry) and 2009 (fiction)
  • Inaugural Senator John Heinz History Center Italian American Collection Scholar-in-Residence
  • 2014 The Irene Blair Honeycutt Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts
  • 2014 Rita Dove Poetry Award, presented annually by The Center for Women Writers at Salem College
  • 2014 Shenandoah Prize for Fiction, awarded annually to the best story published in a volume year of Shenandoah
  • 2013 Mary Frances Hobson Prize
  • 2012 Ragan-Rubin Award for Literary Achievement
  • 2012 Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction
  • Samuel Talmadge Ragan Award, presented annually for outstanding contributions to the Fine Arts of North Carolina over an extended period
  • Fellowship recipient from The Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry
  • Bruno Arcudi Literature Prize
  • Ernest A Lynton Faculty Award for Professional Service and Academic Outreach
  • Aniello Lauri Award for Creative Writing (2001 and 2007)
  • Linda Flowers Prize
  • Sherwood Anderson Award
  • Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Prize
  • Donald Murray Prize
  • 2019 Lee Smith Award


B.A., University of Pittsburgh ‐ English Literature
M.F.A., Warren Wilson College ‐ Creative Writing
M.A., University of Pittsburgh ‐ English Literature

Contact Information

In the News (7)

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Books (7)

Research Works (21)