Saturday, April 5, 2014

Joseph Bathanti: "I Write to Be Forgiven"

Joseph Bathanti
"Why do you write?" I asked North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti, a question I've asked many other writers. Bathanti's answer is unlike anyone else's, and I love it.

"At this point in my life," he says, "after years of writing, I write because it is for me, to quote Flannery O'Connor, 'the habit of being' -- quite simply my life's practice, a daily office, though there are days when I am able to write only in my head. But, of course, psychic writing is invaluable, too.

"I also write because it affords me a chance to be a better person, to see and speak the truth that is perhaps invisible during the actual experience I'm writing about, a truth I cannot afford to tell in my minute to minute existence.

"I write to be forgiven."

Bathanti's latest book of poems, "Concertina" (Mercer University Press) is set in the Charlotte of 1976, when Bathanti was working in local prisons as a VISTA volunteer and dating Joan, the woman who became his wife.

Bathanti, professor of creative writing at Appalachian State University, will talk and read from his poetry at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Tate Hall as part of Central Piedmont's Sensoria festival.
You don't want to miss this. Free and open to the public.