MURFREESBORO – Installed as North Carolina’s Poet Laureate last September, Joseph Bathanti will be awarded Chowan University‘s 19th annual Mary Frances Hobson Prize for Distinguished Achievement in Arts and Letters on Monday, April 15. Known as Hobson Day, the presentation will also feature a dinner, a lecture and a book signing.
Initiated in 1995 by the Hobson Family Foundation of San Francisco, the award serves as a memorial to journalist and poet Mary Frances Hobson, who was the first woman to receive the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in journalism from the University of North Carolina.
“I’m so very honored, especially in light of distinguished past Hobson recipients, and the fact that the award is named for Mary Frances Hobson, a truly pioneering poet and journalist who left her indelible stamp not only upon Chowan University, but also upon the region surrounding it,” Bathanti said of the honor.
Past recipients of the award include Robert Morgan, Lee Smith, Allan Gurganus, Jill McCorkle and Kaye Gibbons.
Bathanti is a professor of creative writing at Appalachian State University, where he is also co-director of the Visiting Writers Series, director of Writing in the Field and Watauga Global Community Writer-In-Residence.
He is the author of six books of poetry: “Communion Partners,” “Anson County,” “The Feast of All Saints,” “This Metal,” which was nominated for The National Book Award and won the 1997 Oscar Arnold Young Award from The North Carolina Poetry Council for best book of poems by a North Carolina writer, “Land of Amnesia,” and “Restoring Sacred Art,” winner of the 2010 Roanoke Chowan Prize awarded annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for best book of poetry in a given year.
His first novel, “East Liberty,” (won the Carolina Novel Award in 2001, and his latest novel, “Coventry,” won the Novello Literary Award. “The High Heart,” a collection of short stories, was awarded the Spokane Prize in 2006.
Bathanti published “They Changed the State: The Legacy of North Carolina’s Visiting Artists,” 1971-1995 (The North Carolina Arts Council, 2007), a work of nonfiction, in 2007. His work has appeared in numerous anthologies and journals. He is a playwright, editor, lyricist and has served as a North Carolina Humanities Council Road Scholar and Let’s Talk About It discussion series facilitator.
Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Bathanti holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in English literature from the University of Pittsburgh, as well as an M.F.A. in creative from Warren Wilson College. He came to North Carolina in 1976 as a VISTA Volunteer to work with prison inmates.
Bathanti is a two-time recipient of Literature Fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council (1994 and 2009). In 1996 he received a Fellowship from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Individual Poets. Also among his many honors are the Samuel Talmadge Ragan Award, the Bruno Arcudi Literature Prize, the Ernest A. Lynton Faculty Award for Professional Service and Academic Outreach, the Aniello Lauri Award for Creative Writing, the Linda Flowers Literary Award, the Sherwood Anderson Award, the Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Prize, and the Donald Murray Prize. The North Carolina Poetry Society recently named him 2011-12 Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for the Western Region.