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Originally published: 2012-09-04 16:39:04
Last modified: 2012-09-04 16:39:04

Our View: Path of a poet laureate begins in the High Country

Even if most of us aren’t certain about what the job involves, something there is that loves a poet laureate.

And in announcing North Carolina’s newest laureate, there’s a lot to love — especially for the High Country.

Gov. Bev Perdue’s selection of Appalachian State University professor Joseph Bathanti as our state’s top literary ambassador is a solid choice. Although the poet is not a North Carolina native, he says in an interview that he “fell in love instantly with North Carolina” after relocating here in 1976.

There is truth in that statement, and not because Bathanti said so — but because the best poets don’t treat words as wallflowers, they make them dance.

Through an ongoing history of social outreach and commitment to North Carolina via his talent, Bathanti has reached into the rural areas of our state, often with duel swords: he has been part of a national program that fights poverty and he has shared his literary gifts in bringing visiting artists to small towns and rural communities. His work with our state’s prison system is well-documented, and his  project to tell the stories of North Carolina’s veterans is admirable and timely.

Certainly, Bathanti claims no seat in an ivy tower, and this is what North Carolina needs most in its poet laureate. From prisons to classrooms, Bathanti’s poetry is as accessible as the poet himself.

Bathanti’s selection as North Carolina poet laureate is a crowning achievement for a gifted wordsmith, further recognition for Appalachian State University and a well-positioned choice to represent one of the most literary states in the nation. We look forward to enjoying the fruits of his tenure.