Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Born on December 24, 1950, in Los Angeles, Dana Gioia graduated from Stanford and Harvard Universities, from Harvard having received two degrees, an M.A. in 1975 and an M.B.A. in 1977. While also writing poetry, he rapidly worked his way into a vice presidency at General Foods Corp. A practical man of business as well as a poet, like Wallace Stevens, Gioia is an unusual writer who is concerned with reviving poetry as a popular art form and bringing it back into general culture. A well-known commentator on poetry as well as a poet, Gioia in 2003 took the leadership of the National Endowment for the Arts, and he used that position to raise public awareness and appreciation of poetry.
From the beginning of his career, Gioia’s work reflected the Catholicism in which he was raised. Again like Wallace Stevens, a poet he admires, Gioia finds writing a realm of spiritual exploration as well as a way to comment on the fallen world. His mostly formalist poetry deals with Christian and, more specifically, Catholic themes, including awareness of sin and weakness, possibility of grace, and the mysterious otherness of small events in daily life. He has the sacramental vision which is often the distinguishing mark of the Catholic poet, and many scenes in his narratives have elements of the sacramental, suggestions of a meeting place or a transaction between the temporal and the eternal.
The poems in Interrogations at Noon find epiphanies in the experiences of ordinary life. The daily...
(The entire section is 616 words.)
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Bibliography (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Sources for Further Study
Gioia, Dana. Can Poetry Matter? Essays on Poetry and American Culture. 10th anniversary ed. St. Paul, Minn.: Graywolf Press, 2002. Contains Gioia’s essays on what poetry can and should be doing in the contemporary world. Helpful for understanding his poetics.
Hagstrom, Jack W. C., and Bill Morgan. Dana Gioia: A Descriptive Bibliography with Critical Essays. Jackson, Miss.: Parrish House, 2002. Contains an exhaustive bibliography of Gioia’s work as well as several useful articles about it. The most complete source for Gioia materials.
Lindner, April. Dana Gioia. 2d ed. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University, 2003. A general introduction to Gioia’s thought and work. Useful for students.
Meyer, Bruce. “Dana Gioia.” In New Formalist Poets. Vol. 282 in Dictionary of Literary Biography, edited by Jonathan N. Barron. Detroit, Mich.: Gale Group, 2003. A brief biography and an analysis of Gioia’s major themes.