Dana Gioia Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

In addition to being an influential poet, Dana Gioia (JOY-ah) is one of the most controversial critics of his generation. His collection of essays Can Poetry Matter? Essays on Poetry and American Culture (1992) was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has edited a number of anthologies, coediting undergraduate literature textbooks with X. J. Kennedy and the Longman Anthology of Short Fiction (2001) with R. S. Gwynn. He also coedited Poems from Italy (1985) with William Jay Smith and New Italian Poets (1991) with Michael Palma. Gioia has translated “The Madness of Hercules” (1992) by Seneca the Younger and Eugenio Montale’s Mottetti: Poems of Love (1990); he also translated several poems of Valerio Magrelli in his own collection Interrogations at Noon. In addition, Gioia has composed an opera libretto, Nosferatu (pr., pb. 2001), with composer Alva Henderson, which had its concert premiere at West Chester College on June 7, 2001.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Dana Gioia is the most visible spokesperson for a movement in poetry variously called New Formalism or Expansive poetry, which stresses the appropriateness of traditional forms for contemporary poetry as well as urging a return to storytelling in verse. The Gods of Winter was a quarterly choice of the English Poetry Book Society, and his collections are published by Peterloo in the United Kingdom as well as Graywolf in the United States. He received the Frederick Bock Prize from Poetry magazine in 1985 and an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation in 2002 for Interrogations at Noon.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Crosscurrents: A Quarterly 8, no. 2 (1989). Special issue, “Expansionist Poetry: The New Formalism and the New Narrative.” A groundbreaking issue on the Expansive movement, with many essays essential to understanding the movement and Gioia. Gioia’s contribution is the narrative poem “The Homecoming.”

Feirstein, Frederick, ed. Expansive Poetry: Essays on the New Narrative and the New Formalism. Ashland, Oreg.: Story Line Press, 1989. This collection includes two of Gioia’s essays, “The Dilemma of the Long Poem” and “Notes on the New Formalism,” but also includes other perspectives on the Formalist movement, many of which offer insight into Gioia’s aesthetic.

Gioia, Dana. Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture. St. Paul, Minn.: Graywolf Press, 2004. Gioia argues that poetry has a place in popular culture, citing the oral forms of rap, slam, and performance, and speculates on the future form of poetry.

_______. “Paradigms Lost: Parts One and Two.” Interview by Gloria Brame. Eclectic Literary Forum, Spring/Summer, 1995. This interview with Gioia stresses his influences and the effect on his life and work of the death of his first son to sudden infant death syndrome. Gioia also discusses the frequent misunderstandings of his ideas by supporters and critics alike.

Hagstrom, Jack W. C., and Bill Morgan, eds. Dana Gioia: A Descriptive Bibliography with Critical Essays. Jackson, Miss.: Parrish House, 2002. This volume combines critical analysis of Gioia with a bibliography of his works.

Lindner, April. Dana Gioia. Western Writers series. 2d ed. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University Press, 2003. The most extensive consideration of Gioia’s poetry. Lindner considers the Expansive movement in poetry and Gioia’s criticism, translations, and poetry through The Gods of Winter. She also devotes considerable space to a discussion of Gioia’s narrative work, an aspect of his poetry often overlooked.

Mason, David. “Dana Gioia’s Case for Poetry.” In The Poetry of Life and the Life of Poetry. Ashland, Oreg.: Story Line Press, 2000. An excellent overview of Gioia’s critical opus, this essay corrects many misinterpretations of Gioia’s aesthetic and also makes clear the importance of Gioia’s critical work in contemporary poetry. In the same volume is the essay “The New Formalism and the Audience for Poetry,” which addresses many of the concerns of the New Formalist movement.