Gioia to be NEA nominee

October 24, 2002|By Mary Carole McCauley

American Book Award winner and former businessman Dana Gioia will be nominated to head the National Endowment for the Arts, President Bush announced yesterday.

Although the appointment must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Gioia's nomination has been long-awaited. The NEA has been rudderless since its previous chairman, Michael Hammond, died Jan. 29, six days into the job.

Gioia's background is extremely varied. His lengthy experience in the private sector may appeal to fiscal conservatives; arts advocates could be drawn to his literary credentials.

A native Californian of Italian and Mexican descent, Gioia, 51, was the first member of his family to attend college. He later earned an MBA from Stanford University and a master's degree in comparative literature from Harvard University. To support his writing, Gioia worked for 15 years for General Foods, eventually as vice president of marketing. His collection Interrogations at Noon, one of three full-length books of poetry, won the 2002 American Book Award. He also is well-known for Can Poetry Matter? a nonfiction book about the role of poetry in contemporary culture.

A longtime cultural commentator for BBC Radio, Gioia also is classical music critic for San Francisco magazine. He was a visiting writer at Johns Hopkins University in 1992 and also has taught at Sarah Lawrence College and Wesleyan University.

He lives in Sonoma, Calif., with his wife and two sons.

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