Sacramento, California - Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today appointed Dana Gioia as California Poet Laureate.
Gioia, 64, of Santa Rosa, has been the Judge Widney professor of poetry and public culture at the University of Southern California since 2011.
As chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 to 2009, Gioia launched several nationwide programs to expand public support for the arts and for arts education, with a focus on fostering youth creativity and expression. These initiatives include the Poetry Out Loud contest for high school students, the Big Read program to promote community reading initiatives across the country and Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, a project to support returning troops and their families.
In 2003, Gioia compiled the anthology California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present as part of the California Legacy Project. The collection, which has been praised by the Los Angeles Times Book Review and California State Librarian Emeritus Kevin Starr, features poetry from 101 authors and explores California’s cultural history, a prominent theme in Gioia’s writings.
The California native’s body of work has received wide critical acclaim, including his 1991 volume Can Poetry Matter? which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award and triggered national discussion on the role of poetry in American public culture. Gioia is also a winner of the American Book Award and was honored with the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2008 for his public service in support of the arts.
Gioia earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University, a Master of Arts degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University.
This position requires Senate confirmation and the California Arts Council provides an annual stipend. Gioia is a Republican.