Dana Goioia to head the NEA

January 31, 2003|By Mary Carole McCauley

Dana Gioia, a National Book Award-winning poet and businessman, will come to Washington early next month to head the National Endowment for the Arts.

Gioia's appointment was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, a year to the day his predecessor, Michael P. Hammond, died unexpectedly after just one week on the job.

"I am honored by the Senate's vote of confirmation. Now I am eager to get started," Gioia said in a news release. "Leading the National Endowment for the Arts is a great privilege and an enormous responsibility. Both the arts and arts education face many challenges at present, and the Endowment has much to do."

FOR THE RECORD - One of National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia's credentials was misstated in the Today section Jan. 31 and April 28. Gioia is the winner of the 2002 American Book Award for his third volume of poetry, Interrogations at Noon. The Sun regrets the error.

A native Californian, Gioia, 52, comes from a blue-collar background. His Italian father drove a taxicab and owned a shoe store; his Mexican mother once worked as a telephone operator. Gioia was the first member of his family to attend college. He earned a master's degree in comparative literature from Harvard in 1975 and an MBA from Stanford University in 1977.

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.

Gioia is at least somewhat familiar with Baltimore - he was a visiting professor in 1992 at Johns Hopkins University. He is currently in California with his wife and two sons, where he is completing a book of literary essays and an opera libretto.

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