Dana Gioia

Poet Laureate of California
2015 – 2019

Reading (three poems) Pity the Beautiful, The Ballad of Jesús Ortiz, Marriage of Many Years

Dana Gioia is an internationally acclaimed poet and writer. Former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Gioia was born in Los Angeles of Italian and Mexican descent. The first person in his family to attend college, he received a B.A. and M.B.A. from Stanford and an M.A. from Harvard in Comparative Literature. For fifteen years he worked as a businessman before quitting at forty-one to become a full-time writer. Gioia has published five full-length collections of verse, most recently 99 Poems: New & Selected (2016), which won the Poets’ Prize as the best new book of the year. His third collection, Interrogations at Noon (2001), was awarded the American Book Award. Gioia is best known as a central figure in the revival of rhyme, meter, and narrative in contemporary poetry. Critic William Oxley has called Gioia, “probably the most exquisite poet writing in English today.” Gioia served as the California State Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2019. During his tenure he became the first laureate to visit all 58 counties of California. In 2020, The Huntington Library acquired Gioia’s papers and documents, including his work as a poet, through fastidiously maintained drafts of poems and essays from his books, his correspondence, and materials representing his achievements as an advocate for poetry and the arts at the NEA and as the California Poet Laureate. The archived materials include footage and information from 2019 Gathering of Poets Laureate.