Dana Gioia – California Poet Laureate

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Date(s) - Wednesday, August 3, 2016
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Flamingo Conference Resort and Spa

Dana Gioia – California Poet Laureate

Come meet the man who left the corporate world as Vice President of Marketing for General Foods and on the team that invented Jell-O Jigglers, to become an internationally acclaimed and award-winning poet and former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. Dana Gioia (pronounced JOY-uh) will be our speaker on August 3rd.

When appointed the Poet Laureate of California in December, 2015 by Governor Jerry Brown, Dana said “I believe that poetry is for everyone. It is not a remote or intellectual art. Poetry is our most concise, expressive, and memorable way of using words and it can play a powerful role in schools and civic life. I am honored to become poetry’s servant in California.”

As chairman of the NEA from 2003 to 2009, Gioia launched several nationwide programs to expand and rejuvenate public support for the arts and arts education. These initiatives include the Poetry Out Loud contest, which today involves 30,000 high school students in California alone, Operation Homecoming, a project to support returning troops and their families, and the Big Read, which became the largest literary program in the history of the federal government. By the end of 2008, 400 communities had held month-long celebrations of great literature.  (Business Week Magazine referred to him as “The Man Who Saved the NEA.“)  He was honored with the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2008 for his public service in support of the arts.

Dana is a native Californian of Sicilian and Mexican descent, who was the first in his family to go to college. He received a B.A. and a M.B.A. from Stanford University, an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University and is the recipient of ten honorary degrees.  Dana is currently the Judge Widney Professor of Poetry and Public Culture at the University of Southern California where he teaches each fall semester.  He and his wife, Mary, have two sons. They divide their time between Los Angeles and Santa Rosa.

Dana has published five full-length collections of poetry, as well as eight chapbooks. His poetry collection, Interrogations at Noon, won the 2002 American Book Award. His 1991 volume Can Poetry Matter?, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, is credited with helping to revive the role of poetry in American public culture. In 2014 he won the Aiken-Taylor Award for lifetime achievement in American poetry.  He and Mary will bring a selection of his books for purchase after the meeting, including the just published  99 Poems New & Selected.

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