Session Abstract or Summary
My proposed session is a reading of a story called "Rita's Dream." It's a story, set in 1956,that starts out in an Italian American neighborhood in Pittsburgh, PA. The story is about Travis Sweeney and Rita Schiaretta, not at all romantically connected, yet thrown together by circumstance when Rita importunes Travis to play a number with a local bookie because of a mysterious dream she has about her dead father, a cobbler, who died when his shop burnt. The number hits and Travis and Rita use the money to take a trip to Florida together. They start out in a borrowed Cadillac and inexplicably get lost and find themselves mired in a blizzard in Braxton County, West Virginia on Christmas Eve, unable to travel any further because the weather. They take a room together at the Elk Motel, next to the Elk River, are looked out for and welcomed by a sage and kindly general store owner who is nursing a litter of abandoned infant rabbits. Rita convinces the store owner to give her one of the rabbits, even though the store owner cautions her about its fragility and almost certain death if she takes it. Rita and Travis form a kind of immutable bond, but not in a conventional sense, though I would venture that this is essentially a love story – and that that love is hatched in and because of Appalachia.
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Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary
At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1
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 seventeen books and the McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor in Interdisciplinary Education & Writer-in-Residence at Appalachian State University’s Watauga Residential College. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville, NC.