Land of Amnesia by Joseph Bathanti


Land of Amnesia by Joseph Bathanti


ISBN 978-0-9816280-7-3

8 x 5 paperback

84 pages

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"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


“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


About the Author

Joseph Bathanti is former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14) and recipient of the 2016 North Carolina Award for Literature. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including Communion Partners; Anson County; The Feast of All Saints; This Metal, nominated for the National Book Award, and winner of the Oscar Arnold Young Award; Land of Amnesia; Restoring Sacred Art, winner of the 2010 Roanoke-Chowan Award, given annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for best book of poetry in a given year; Sonnets of the Cross; Concertina, winner of the 2014 Roanoke-Chowan Award; and The 13th Sunday after Pentecost, released by LSU Press in 2016. His novel, East Liberty, won the 2001 Carolina Novel Award. His novel, Coventry, won the 2006 Novello Literary Award. His book of stories, The High Heart, won the 2006 Spokane Prize. They Changed the State: The Legacy of North Carolina’s Visiting Artists, 1971-1995, his book of nonfiction, was published in early 2007. His recent book of personal essays, Half of What I Say Is Meaningless, winner of the Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction, is from Mercer University Press. A new novel, The Life of the World to Come, was released from University of South Carolina Press in late 2014. Bathanti is Professor of Creative Writing at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolna, and the University’s Watauga Residential College Writer-in-Residence. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville, North Carolina.

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