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Poet and BMI Affiliate Dana Gioia Appointed NEA Chairman

Posted in News on April 6, 2003
Congratulations to award-winning poet, critic and BMI affiliate Dana Gioia, who has been confirmed as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the ninth chairman of the NEA, established in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, whose mission is "to enrich our Nation and its diverse cultural heritage by supporting works of artistic excellence, advancing learning in the arts, and strengthening the arts in communities throughout the country."  

Dana Gioia

One of America’s leading contemporary men of letters, Gioia is internationally recognized for his role in reviving rhyme, meter, and narrative in contemporary poetry. Gioia's poems, translations, essays, and reviews have appeared in many magazines including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Washington Post Book World, The New York Times Book Review, Slate, and The Hudson Review. He is also a long time commentator on American culture and literature for BBC Radio.

After earning an M.B.A from Stanford and a Master's degree in Comparative Literature from Harvard, Gioia enjoyed a fifteen-year career as a business executive, rising to vice president of marketing at General Foods. Writing at night and on weekends, he also established a major literary reputation, and in 1992 he left the business world to become a full-time writer.

He has published three full-length books of poetry, debuting with Daily Horoscope (1986). The Gods of Winter (1991) was chosen by London's Poetry Society Book Club as their main selection, an honor rarely given to American authors, and in the US was co-winner of the Poets’ Prize. His latest collection, Interrogations at Noon (2001), won the American Book Award.

His critical collection, Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture (1992), stands as one of the most influential literary essays of the past quarter century. It was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the "Best Books of 1992" and was a finalist for the 1992 National Book Critics Award in Criticism. A special tenth anniversary edition was published in 2002.

Before deciding to be a writer, Gioia trained to become a composer. His work has been set to music by many composers in genres ranging from classical to rock, including a full-length dance theater piece, Counting the Children. He has also written two children’s pieces for narrator and orchestra with the composer Paul Salerni.

He wrote the libretto for Nosferatu, an opera (with composer Alva Henderson) which was published by Graywolf in 2001. Showcased as a work-in-progress in ten concert presentations across the US, Nosferatu has received international acclaim as an intensely neo-romantic musical drama.

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