Dana Gioia

Former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Dana Gioia is not only a prominent arts advocate and business man, he is also a prize-winning and highly acclaimed poet.

Photo: Dana Gioia, by Ricardo DeAratanha of the Los Angeles Times

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    About

    Born in a suburb of Los Angeles, Gioia was surrounded by poetry since childhood, stating that his Mexican-American mother often recited and read poetry and possessed no higher education of her own. Gioia came to believe that poetry is not “an intrinsically difficult art whose mysteries can be appreciated only by a trained intellectual” (PoetryFoundation.org).

    After earning his B.A. from Stanford University in Business, Gioia studied Comparative Literature at Harvard University under the tutelage Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Fitzgerald.

    Gioia’s many hats include former vice president at General Foods, winner of the American Book Award (for Interrogations at Noon of 2001), several positions teaching poetry on the university level, as well as, of course, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 to 2008. He is responsible for initiating such programs as Poetry Out Loud, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, and Shakespeare in American Communities, as well as several others.

    Though Gioia often writes in free verse, he is best known for his work in the New Formalism school, a movement begun in the 1990s to reinvigorate contemporary poetry with traditional form. Gioia is also a translator, opera librettist, essayist, and reviewer.

    –Christie Finn

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