Land of Amnesia
by Joseph Bathanti
8 x 5 paperback
Joseph Bathanti was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. He came to North Carolina as a VISTA Volunteer in 1976 to work with prison inmates. Bathanti is the author of four books of poetry: Communion Partners; Anson County; The Feast of All Saints; and This Metal, which was nominated for The National Book Award. His first novel, East Liberty, winner of the Carolina Novel Award, was published in 2001. His latest novel, Coventry, won the 2006 Novello Literary Award. They Changed the State: The Legacy of North Carolina’s Visiting Artists, 1971-1995, his book of nonfiction, was published in early 2007. Most recently, his collection of short stories, The High Heart, winner of the 2006 Spokane Prize, was published by Eastern Washington University Press in 2007. He is the recipient of a Literature Fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council; The Samuel Talmadge Ragan Award, presented annually for outstanding contributions to the Fine Arts of North Carolina over an extended period; the Linda Flowers Prize; the Sherwood Anderson Award, the 2007 Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Prize; and others. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. On August 30, 2012, Joseph was named Poet Laureate of North Carolina.
"In his title poem, Joseph Bathanti writes that ‘Even a mincing moon off cotton will yield/light enough to walk by.’ There is something of pale moonlight in all these poems, by which I scarcely mean that they are vague. Rather, things as ordinary as field cotton are seen in a way so original as to seem magical. The author has his rhetorical reasons to call this masterful book Land of Amnesia, but in fact that author forgets nothing. …. The delicious, full-throated lyricism of this volume would alone be enough to recommend it. That it grapples so bravely and brilliantly with what I must feebly call Things That Matter makes it indispensable."
— Sydney Lea, founder of The New England Review
“ ‘I swear, given even this much/of a fool’s chance,’ Joseph Bathanti exclaims right off, making sure he is certain of what he is saying as he narrates memory aloud. So he doesn’t forget—nor do we—what takes place everywhere he goes, whatever he does. That’s what I like best of all about Land of Amnesia, the poetic narrative, the anecdotal moment that’s personal, reflective, and memorable, and the fact that story is the basis of poetry.”
— Simon J. Ortiz, author of Out There Somewhere and Woven Stone
“When I read a poem, I long for a language that is strong yet nuanced, edgy yet ready at any moment to turn on a dime and become capacious, open to all the many ways of living in this world, both past and present. Joseph Bathanti brings this kind of language to his new collection. I admire the heft of it, the sheer refusal to back down in the face of all the ways life can nibble away at our passion and persistence. Take a line, any lines: ‘There where the earth knows to open,/her hair like solstice wheat the day of gleaning,/going grey, but in the moonlight like milkweed/surging out of its pod./Even the unimagined returns.’ Need I say more? Land of Amnesia is a collection I wish I’d written myself. That’s the greatest compliment any poet could give.”
— Kathryn Stripling Byer, North Carolina Poet Laureate and author of Coming to Rest
“Not since Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology has a grouping of poems powerfully linked by viewpoints and voices— spoken or spelled out from a particular landscape in time—excited me so deeply. In this focused gathering of wildly wayward poems, Joseph Bathanti evokes so many invisible realities—some sensual, some subtle—that characterize the heart that beats in the bosom of a Southern countryside he partly describes from loving gut-contact, and another that he painstakingly imagines. To some readers it may occur that Land of Amnesia can be abbreviated as /loa/, who, in the Voudun religion of Haiti, act as spirits, go-betweens, shuttling between worldly and divine realms, serving the same function as angels and saints in Judeo-Christianity. To be human is to overlook the sacred qualities of everything that shines—dark details, delectable details season and ripen Bathanti’s short, sensuous lines. Taken one by one or cumulatively, the poems in Land of Amnesia can only stun as they spell out—solemnly, lyrically, in close-ups and pull-backs—compelling histories of a shared micro-region drunk on the wine of forgetfulness.”
— Al Young, California Poet Laureate and author of Something About the Blues
“These poems by Joseph Bathanti track and blend right in with the early films of Fellini. The locations in this book, while American, American as can be, are yet in their center of Mediterranean space. Not a word of this is explicit here, but is its hidden center, and his location for memory. This book stands out as one by a poet whose experience is his life, and his memory is his aesthetic. This is a very good book of poems.” — Fielding Dawson, author of Penny Lane
Press 53 . PO Box 30314, Winston-Salem, NC 27130-0314
by Joseph Bathanti
Introduction by Mary Jo Bona
8.5 x 5.5 paperback
“Not since Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology has a grouping of poems powerfully linked by viewpoints and voices— spoken or spelled out from a particular landscape in time—excited me so deeply." — Al Young, California Poet Laureate and author of Something About the Blues
“Integrity is the shield and defender of all good writing. It shines in Joseph Bathanti’s work, whatever subject he engages. This admirable book glows with it in joy and pain and tenderness. Let whatever Gods may be take note. True mettle.”—Ronald H. Bayes, founder of St. Andrews College Press
Poet Laureate of North Carolina
by Joseph Bathanti
8.5 x 5.5 paperback
“In Anson County Joseph Bathanti's generous heart turns the local into universal praises. Radiant as a welcome sun after rain, his reverence for people, places, and things fashions rare and extraordinary truths. Anson County is a substantive union of hymn and prayer.”—Shelby Stephenson, author of Play My Music Anyhow
Meet Cover Artist Agnieszka Piechocinska
Agnieszka Piechocinska is a primary school teacher and amateur photographer from Osiek, a village in southern Poland. She finds inspiration in nature and small, seemingly insignificant objects, especially old ones. She also loves abandoned, ruined buildings with all their stories and secrets. For five years she has been sharing her photos on DeviantArt at piechot.deviantart.com/.
ENTERING AN ABANDONED HOUSE
There is no electricity
in the porcelain spools
above jackknifed gutters
where three buzzards leer
like black question marks:
their version of see, speak and hear no evil,
their Once upon a time ...
The door is thrown wide
on broken hinges. Batting
and Pennzoil cans clot in the mud yard
among renegade clumps of daffodils
and snowdrops, trumpet vines,
viburnum gone haywire.
Corn mummifies in the bottom stubble.
The privy gapes.
The owl is at vespers.
His ironic who is second-sensed.
A spendthrift moon levitates.
The whippoorwill insists beyond count
that he is the whippoorwill.
light on the dying wallpaper
eyes every tiptoe.
A half-eaten Pilgrim’s Progress,
forty years overdrawn from the Anson Library,
sures a lame table.
A chair sits at its unfinished toil.
On the floor is an inch of chaff
and a heart-shaped mortuary fan, inscribed:
The spirit is willing,
but the flesh is weak.
Not a thing is prodigal here.
Abandonment has completed this house,
made mystery its intentions.
it is inscrutable.
(from Anson County)