Joseph Bathanti named to the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame

BOONE, N.C. — Former North Carolina Poet Laureate (2012-14) and Appalachian State University Professor Joseph Bathanti has been named to the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame (NCLHOF), an honor reserved for five of the state's most beloved and accomplished writers.

Established in 1996 under the leadership of Poet Laureate Sam Ragan, the NCLHOF is a program of the North Carolina Writers’ Network. The program celebrates and promotes the state’s rich literary heritage by commemorating its leading authors and encouraging the continued flourishing of great literature. The Hall of Fame is located at the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities in Southern Pines.

Since 2008, the Network and the Weymouth Center have collaborated with the North Carolina Center for the Book, the North Carolina Humanities Council and the North Carolina Collection of the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to produce the induction ceremony and to promote the NCLHOF and North Carolina’s literary heritage.

Professor Bathanti—along with groundbreaking essayist and educator Anna Julia Cooper, bestselling novelist Kaye Gibbons, poet and professor Lenard Moore, and Appalachian bard Ron Rash—will be inducted into the hall during a special ceremony on Oct. 6 at the Weymouth Center.

“This prestigious award, which rightly places Professor Bathanti in the company of esteemed North Carolina writers such as Maya Angelou, Carl Sandburg, Reynolds Price, and Lee Smith, attests to Joseph’s lifelong passion for and commitment to the art of writing,” stated Dr. Maria Pramaggiore, chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies. “His legacy as a writer and a teacher is reflected not only in his many–many–award-winning works of poetry, prose, nonfiction, and essay, but also in the writing undertaken by hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of students of all ages and walks of life who learned to write their stories from him in every kind of setting imaginable, from the university classroom to the VA center to the local coffee shop.”

About Joseph Bathanti

Bathanti is the inaugural McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Education and serves as the writer-in-residence in Watauga Residential College in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies; he is also professor of creative writing in the Appalachian State Department of English. Additionally, he is a mentor in the Master of Fine Arts program at Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Bathanti served as the writer-in-residence at the Charles George Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Asheville in 2016, and is the co-founder of the Medical Center’s creative writing program.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Bathanti holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature from the University of Pittsburgh, as well as a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Warren Wilson College. He is the author of over 20 books spanning multiple genres, including poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and personal essays.

Bathanti is the three-time recipient of the Roanoke Chowan Award, given annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for the best book of poetry published by a North Carolina poet in a given year, most recently for his 2022 volume, Light at the Seam, from LSU Press. His most recent book of fiction, The Act of Contrition & Other Stories, from EastOver Press, in 2023, is the winner of the Eastover Prize for Fiction. He is the recipient of the Mary Frances Hobson Prize, awarded annually by Chowan University to recognize distinguished achievement in the field of arts and letters; the Irene Blair Honeycutt Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts, presented annually by Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte; as well as the Lee Smith Award, awarded annually to recognize an individual who has worked to preserve and promote Appalachian culture.

Bathanti came to North Carolina as a VISTA volunteer in 1976 to work with prison inmates, and has remained active in prison outreach and education ever since. He served seven years as humanities chair at Mitchell Community College before joining the faculty at App State in 2001. Today, Bathanti teaches a sequence of courses exploring local and global issues, "Investigations: Local" (WRC 1103) and "Investigations: Global" (WRC 1104), as well as a special topics course for aspiring writers titled "Watauga Writers Workshop" (WRC 3530). Bathanti has received many awards recognizing his excellence in teaching and scholarship, including the Appalachian State Provost’s Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity in 2021; the College of Arts and Sciences Donald W. Sink Family Outstanding Scholar Award in 2021; and the Board of Governors Appalachian State University Excellence in Teaching Award in 2022.

Bathanti's co-edited volume, The Anthology of Black Mountain College Poetry, will appear from UNC Press in late 2024. Also forthcoming later this year is Sempre Fidele & Other Poems, a bilingual edition of Bathanti’s Italian American Pittsburgh poems translated into Italian by Marina Morbiducci and Darcy DiMona. Bathanti's novella, The Stranger, is forthcoming in 2025.


About the Department of English
The Department of English at Appalachian State University is committed to outstanding work in the classroom, the support and mentorship of students, and a dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory, and literature. The department offers master’s degrees in English and rhetoric and composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in literary studies, film studies, creative writing, professional writing, and English education. Learn more at

About the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in four program areas: Appalachian studies; gender, women’s and sexuality studies; global studies; and interdisciplinary studies. The department is also home to Watauga Residential College, an interdisciplinary, alternative general education program. The department promotes creative and imaginative engagement through a cross-disciplinary investigation of complex systems and problems. Learn more at

About the Watauga Residential College at Appalachian
The Watauga Residential College is a specialized academic program where classes are discussion-based seminars that allow students to pursue topics of interest to them within the context of the class. This program provides an unusual opportunity for students to become engaged in learning at a deep level through class discussions and research projects. Watauga classes are interdisciplinary and this approach to learning requires students to integrate knowledge from a variety of disciplines to gain a complete perspective on a topic. Learn more at

Written by Madison Breedlove
Edited by Lauren Gibbs

March 1, 2023

Joseph Bathanti
Published: Mar 1, 2024 8:00am