Michael Dana Gioia Can Poetry Matter Analysis

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Michael Dana Gioia once said that he was “the only person, in history, who went to business school to be a poet.” Gioia is unique because he did not spend his entire life as a writer. He spent the first part of his life furthering his business career and was the vice president of General Foods. After his 1991 essay "Can Poetry Matter? “garnered international attention, Gioia quit business to pursue writing full-time. “Can Poetry Matter?,” which earned the National Book Critics Circle award, is credited with helping revive the role of poetry in American public culture.
Born in a suburb of Los Angeles, Gioia remembers his mother, a Mexican-American without any advanced education, reading and reciting poetry to him at an early age (Dana 4). Gioia has published five full-length collections of poetry, as well as eight chapbooks. He has won numerous awards, including the 2010 Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame in recognition of outstanding service to the Catholic Church. In 1995, he cofounded the West Chester University summer conference on Form and Narrative, which is now the “largest annual poetry-writing conference in the U.S.” (Dana
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Gioia’s creation of a series of NEA National Initiatives to reach previously underserved communities established the agency as truly national in scope (Benson 5). Business Week Magazine referred to him as “The Man Who Saved the NEA” (Byrnes 1). Through programs such as Shakespeare in American Communities, Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience, NEA Jazz Masters, American Masterpieces, and Poetry Out Loud, the Arts Endowment has successfully reached millions of Americans in all corners of the country. Due to such successes as well as the continued artistic excellence of the NEA’s core grant programs, the Arts Endowment, under Chairman Gioia, reestablished itself as a preeminent federal agency and a leader in the arts

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