The Carlyle Campbell Friends of the Library spring meeting will feature a panel of poets talking to each other about their poetry. Joseph Bathanti, North Carolina’s poet laureate, will be joined by Debra Kaufman and Al Maginnes. After dinner, the Friends will be entertained by a mixture of poetry readings and discussion of the art and challenges of writing those poems.
Joseph Bathanti, a Pittsburgh native, is professor of creative writing at Appalachian State University. He came to North Carolina after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh as a VISTA volunteer in 1976 working with the Department of Corrections. He has worked in the state ever since, teaching writing and continuing to work with prison populations. He is the author of eight books of poetry, including National Book Award nominee This Metal and Roanoke Chowan Prize winner Restoring Sacred Art. He was named NC Poet Laureate in 2012 by Governor Bev Perdue. He has also published two novels, some short stories and several works of non-fiction.
Debra Kaufman is also widely published, with two full length collections and with individual poems published in many anthologies and literary magazines. Betty Adcock says of her latest collection, The Next Moment, “This collection is a journey that sings—fugue, lament, and finally hymn of muted celebration.”
Al Maginnes teaches composition and creative writing at Wake Technical Community College. He has published five collections, including Ghost Alphabet, winner of the White Pine Poetry Prize, and is also published in a number of regional and national journals.
Make your reservation for dinner and an entertaining evening of poetry in support of the library today. Call the library office at x8531 or visit the Friends website for more information and to read poems from each of these fine poets.
—Story submitted by Laura Davidson, dean of library information services
-- Joseph Bathanti
Singled from the queue filing
through airport security,
my 90 year old father is fully cooperative,
even amiable; not even surprised, it seems,
that fate has tapped him on the shoulder
to answer for something he is innocent of.
Two uniformed buxom matrons,
coiled hair and black patent leather
Sam Browns, heart-shaped
silver badges, ask him
if he’s accepted anything from strangers
since he’s entered the terminal.
He assures them he never accepts things from strangers.
They study him as if his affability
is part of the ploy, a filament
wired to the bomb he’ll trigger.
They prod over him an electric wand,
slip him out of his overcoat, shake his cane.
He smiles and calls them young lady.
He’s ordered to remove his shoes,
a pair of white Addidas,
not a scuff upon them; and his hat,
an old brown fedora they flip over
and over and empty of its nothingness,
before patting him down like a convict,
armpits and crotch, sliding
their hands up and down his arms and legs,
each skeletal ridge and knob
as if by magic he might divide
and reveal the vault of Armageddon.
Suddenly my father is terrible as Isaiah.
Yet he remains smiling, even as they strip him,
tottering naked on bare yellow feet,
white hair smoking off his chest,
millwright’s legs tungsten blue,
from him emanating an audible tick.
Then they peel him out of his skin,
jackknife him open:
sprung, mis-spliced wires,
capped sockets, taped frays –
the mysterious circuitry of detonation.
Still they don’t find what they’re searching for,
and he can’t remember
where he’s hidden it.