Joseph Bathanti | The Sun Magazine #2

Joseph Bathanti

Joseph Bathanti is a former poet laureate of North Carolina who came to the state as a VISTA volunteer in 1976 to work with prison inmates. He teaches at Appalachian State University.

— From November 2021
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Blind Angels

Pittsburgh, at the end of another terribly hot day in an unending string of terribly hot days, is a forge, the air like damp, tepid gauze. The people on the streets look stretched, desperate, short-tempered. My poetry reading, part of the eighteen-day Bloomfield Sacred Arts Festival, is being held in the Bloomfield Art Works, a small, un-air-conditioned gallery on Liberty Avenue. Its walls are covered with “sacred” art, mostly paintings, photographs, and drawings of angels. The subjects possess that characteristic ethereal androgyny, that feathery beauty that has become cliché. They are intriguing, but, in the main, I’m tired of angels.

December 2001
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


Bull City looks like Fidel Castro: green fatigues, engineer’s cap, and mule-tail, anarchist beard. He’s from Missoula, Montana, but he took his fall — a life sentence — right up the road in Wilkes County, North Carolina. He carries a Bible, a dictionary, a prison-issue loose-leaf, and two sharpened pencils. He wants to be a writer.

April 2000

Come Rain Or Come Shine

Twenty-Five Years Of The Sun

This month marks The Sun’s twenty-fifth anniversary. As the deadline for the January issue approached — and passed — we were still debating how to commemorate the occasion in print. We didn’t want to waste space on self-congratulation, but we also didn’t think we should let the moment pass unnoticed. At the eleventh hour, we came up with an idea: we would invite longtime contributors and current and former staff members to send us their thoughts, recollections, and anecdotes about The Sun. Maybe we would get enough to fill a few pages. What we got was enough to fill the entire magazine.

January 1999
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories


In the summer of 1958, the summer before I started kindergarten, my family — my mother; my father; my sister, Marie; my mother’s mother; and I — took its first and last family vacation.

March 1995


After fourteen years of yard-walking a life sentence, Broadus Creek wore the mask of a traveler, implacably intent upon his route but thoroughly fortified against destination.

May 1994

Room One

I am in Room One, the first on the left at the top of the wide marble steps, with the rest of the first-graders. The mothers are beginning to leave. A lot of kids are crying. It still has not occurred to me to be afraid.

June 1990

Transfer Day

Tuesday, at Gethsemane, was transfer day and when the bus arrived, the yard was invariably packed with men curious to see who was coming and going or to see one of their old partners passing through. The men scheduled to leave were already lined up at the gate with the usual effects: a roll of gray bedclothes, cigar boxes, a few books, a carton of cigarettes.

January 1985
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