State's former poet laureate to read verse

Cal Lutheran Choir will sing one of his poems at event

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Oct. 7, 2019) A free Oct. 23 event at California Lutheran University will feature a reading and lecture by California’s most recent poet laureate and a choral performance of one of his poems.

“The Innovative Vision of Poet Dana Gioia: American Poetry and Public Life” will begin at 4 p.m. in Samuelson Chapel on the Thousand Oaks campus.

Gioia, a past chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), will read from and illuminate his award-winning poetry and discuss how community engagement in poetry and all the arts fosters a vibrant public sphere. The Cal Lutheran Choir, conducted by Wyant Morton, will perform a musical setting of Gioia’s poem “Prayer” that was composed by Morten Lauridsen.

During his term as California Poet Laureate from 2015 through 2018, Gioia brought his own poetry and the work of established and emerging poets to every county in the state, the first to visit all 58. 

Gioia has championed not only poetry, but all of the arts and arts education. As chair of the NEA from 2003 to 2009, Gioia helped launch the largest programs in the agency’s history including Poetry Out Load and Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience. Business Week called him “The Man Who Saved the NEA.”

The Judge Widney Chair of Poetry and Public Culture at the University of Southern California, he has published five full-length collections of verse. His most recent, “99 Poems: New & Selected,” won the 2018 Poets’ Prize as the best new book. He received the American Book Award for his 2001 collection, “Interrogations at Noon.” An influential critic, Gioia also has published four books of essays. His controversial 1992 volume “Can Poetry Matter?” was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award.

Gioia has written four opera libretti and collaborated with musicians in a range of genres. His work has been set to music by many composers including Dave Brubek. He collaborated with jazz pianist Helen Sung on her 2018 vocal album “Sung With Words.” Gioia’s dance opera, “Haunted,” premiered in March. 

Born in Los Angeles to a family with Italian and Mexican roots, Gioia was the first in his family to attend college. He received a bachelor’s degree and MBA from Stanford University and worked in business for 15 years before quitting at the age of 41 to become a full-time writer. He earned a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University. 

Samuelson Chapel is located at 165 Chapel Lane. Cal Lutheran’s Artists and Speakers Committee and English Department are sponsoring the event. For more information, contact Jim Bond at 805-493-3244 or jabond@callutheran.edu.

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