April, 2013: Hosted by Appalachian State University’s Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock, Appalachian Perspective cable television program has featured prominent and interesting North Carolinians, the university’s leading academic and public service programs, and other topics of statewide interest. Episodes air across the state on cable operators’ community access channels. The 30-minute program is a production of the university’s Office of University Communications. Watch the video at http://today.appstate.edu/ap-bathanti/.
The following edited transcipt has been prepared from this Appalachian Perspective episode.
The following is a presentation of Appalachian State University.
Chancellor Kenneth Peacock: Through 2014 award-winning poet and novelist Joseph Bathanti will tour the state as North Carolina’s leading ambassador of literature. The creative writing professor at Appalachian is North Carolina’s newest Poet Laureate. It’s a fitting role for this gentleman. For the past 35 years, Joseph Bathanti has helped people find their voice through writing, from prison inmates, to college students, to combat Veterans. We will meet this advocate for literacy coming up on Appalachian Perspective.
KP: Welcome to Appalachian Perspective, my guest today is North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti. Welcome Joseph, it is great to have you on the show and great to have as part of Appalachian State.
Joseph Bathanti: My pleasure to be here, Chancellor.
KP: Well, thank you. Tell me, did you ever see this coming? I mean, you came to Appalachian in 2001, did you in your wildest of thoughts think, maybe one day?
JB: One aspires to those kinds of things, but it is often things that happen to other people. But I should point out that the very last round of Poet Laureates nominations, I was actually nominated and I was a finalist, so I thought that I had a crack at it. But even so, it’s such a talented pool of writers that you are competing against, all good friends and colleagues of mine, so still thoroughly unbelievable when I got the call that the governor had selected me.
KP: You are the seventh state Poet Laureate, is that correct?
JB: Yes, sir.
KP: What happened when you found out? At that moment, what did you think? Did you party? What did you do?
JB: It’s interesting. I got an answering machine. (On) my cellphone voicemail there was a message from David Potorti who was a literature director at the North Carolina Arts Council. David didn’t come right out and say “You got it.” What he said was to give me a ring, and then he said “Ah, how auspicious it is Friday the 13th” because it was July 13th. And I took that auspicious to mean good auspicious, not that he says saying “Haha you didn’t get it.” So I called David back and as he said yes, it’s for real, you may celebrate. It was really late in the evening, I was with my wife Joan. We were visiting in Atlanta and I went home and my whole family was there and Joan made the announcement. Everybody hooped and hollered. You know, it’s just a terrific feeling to surface out of that pool and such an honor, especially because that pool of North Carolina writers is so very distinguished.
KP: How has life changed since that call? Since that moment you found out.
JB: As much as anything, Chancellor, it has changed because… well my inbox became suddenly unmanageable. I’m asked to do things all over the state and sometimes outside the state. On a more practical level, the kinds of hours I spend working answering correspondents, just dealing with it. And also, my responsibilities here at the university have become exponentially increased. I drive a lot of miles now, so I’m on the road, gosh, I’m on the road just about five days a week I’ll bet. And I would say three out of those five days I am sleeping in a hotel bed. So life has changed dramatically…
Continue reading at http://today.appstate.edu/ap-bathanti/