Date & Time
Monday, Oct. 2, 2023
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Location Heinz History Center 1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh PA, 15222
Ticketing Free

Join the Italian American Program for a reading with author Joseph Bathanti.

An author, educator, and Pittsburgh native, Bathanti will read passages from his new book, “The Act of Contrition & Other Stories,” from EasstOver Press.

The book is a series of linked stories and one novella that continues the adventures of Fritz Sweeney and his outrageously memorable parents, Travis and Rita, that began in Bathanti’s earlier award-winning volume of stories, “The High Heart.”

Spanning the mid-fifties to the mid-seventies, in an Italian American working class neighborhood in Pittsburgh, “The Act of Contrition & Other Stories” celebrates and complicates the operatic glories and tragedies of an offbeat family that fashions from the vault of explosive ancestral secrets its own incendiary mythology.

These fourteen unforgettable stories—a mélange of incantatory magical realism and clear-eyed documentary precision (in the vein of Raymond Carver)—are narrated by Fritz in a prophetic voice that issues at once from the very aggregate of steel town Pittsburgh and his deep yearning to escape it.

This program is presented in conjunction with the Memoir Writing Workshop with Joseph Bathanti.


Admission to the reading is free with advance registration. The program will be held in the museum’s fifth floor Mueller Center. For additional questions, please contact

About the Author

Joseph Bathanti is the former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-2014) and recipient of the 2016 North Carolina Award in Literature, the state’s highest civilian honor. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, he has BA & MA degrees in English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing from Warren Wilson College. Bathanti arrived in North Carolina as a VISTA Volunteer in 1976 to work with prisoners in the Department of Correction and has remained active in prison outreach and education ever since.

He is the author of eleven books of poetry, including “This Metal,” nominated for the National Book Award, and winner of the Oscar Arnold Young Award; “Restoring Sacred Art,” winner of the 2010 Roanoke Chowan Prize, awarded annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for best book of poetry in a given year; Concertina, winner of the 2014 Roanoke Chowan Prize. His most recent volume, “Light at the Seam,” from Louisiana State University Press, is the winner of the 2022 Roanoke Chowan Prize.

He is also the author of five books of fiction: “East Liberty,” winner of the 2001 Carolina Novel Award; “Coventry,” winner of the 2006 Novello Literary Award; “The High Heart,” winner of the 2007 Spokane Prize for Short Fiction; and the novel, “The Life of the World to Come.”

His book of personal essays, “Half of What I Say Is Meaningless,” is the winner of the 2014 Will D. Campbell Award for Creative Nonfiction. A co-edited anthology, “Crossing the Rift: North Carolina Poets on 9/11 & Its Aftermath,” was released in 2021.

Bathanti is Professor of English and McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Education & Writer-in-Residence of Appalachian State University’s Watauga Residential College in Boone, North Carolina. He also teaches in Carlow University’s low residency MFA Program in Creative Writing in Pittsburgh. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville, North Carolina and is the co-founder of the Medical Center’s Creative Writing Program.

For additional questions, please contact