Keeping an Open Mind About Dana Gioia

Posted by at 10:02AM

DanaGioiaByLynnGoldsmith.jpgHe may have been called “the John Ashcroft of poetry” by Black Sparrow Press founder John Martin, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti did say he was an ‘excellent choice’ for the “National Endowment for the Arts of Complacency.”
But he’s not all bad. In fact, he sounds like a very interesting person, aside from his politics, so if you still haven’t Googled him, I encourage you to do so. Check out this SF Chronicle article that was published on him when he was appointed by Bush to head the NEA (appropriately entitled, “Who is Dana Gioia?”). It made me feel a lot better about the choice for Commencement Speaker. There’s also his semi-famous essay, “Can Poetry Matter?” published in the Atlantic Monthly, and some of his poetry. I thought this one was nice:
Rough Country
Give me a landscape made of obstacles,
of steep hills and jutting glacial rock,
where the low-running streams are quick to flood
the grassy fields and bottomlands.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A place
no engineers can master–where the roads
must twist like tendrils up the mountainside
on narrow cliffs where boulders block the way.
Where tall black trunks of lightning-scalded pine
push through the tangled woods to make a roost
for hawks and swarming crows.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . And sharp inclines
where twisting through the thorn-thick underbrush,
scratched and exhausted, one turns suddenly
to find an unexpected waterfall,
not half a mile from the nearest road,
a spot so hard to reach that no one comes–
a hiding place, a shrine for dragonflies
and nesting jays, a sign that there is still
one piece of property that won’t be owned.


3 Responses to “Keeping an Open Mind About Dana Gioia”

  1. Anthony Sanchez says:

    Also keep in mind that he wrote this:
    Money, the long green,
    cash, stash, rhino, jack
    or just plain dough.
    Chock it up, fork it over,
    shell it out. Watch it
    burn holes through pockets.
    To be made of it! To have it
    to burn! Greenbacks, double eagles,
    megabucks and Ginnie Maes.
    It greases the palm, feathers a nest,
    holds heads above water,
    makes both ends meet.
    Money breeds money.
    Gathering interest, compounding daily.
    Always in circulation.
    Money. You don’t know where it’s been,
    but you put it where your mouth is.
    And it talks.

  2. Chris Bourg says:

    If you want to learn more about Gioia, including links to books by and about him in Green Library, see:

  3. luis says:

    Great article! Thank you very much for sharing this information.


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