Huntington Library Acquires Acclaimed Poet’s Papers

Dana Gioia, a premier poet and essayist, recently had his papers acquired by The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens has announced that it has acquired the papers of Dana Gioia, an internationally acclaimed poet and writer who served as the chair of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003–09 and as the California Poet Laureate from 2015-19.
Having published poems for many years while working as a businessman, Gioia exploded onto the national poetry scene in 1991 with the publication of his provocative essay “Can Poetry Matter?” in The Atlantic.
In subsequent decades, Gioia made literary writing his life’s work and exerted great influence on contemporary culture, not only as a poet and essayist, but also as a translator, editor, anthologist, opera librettist, teacher and advocate for the arts.
The archive documents of Gioia’s work as a poet include drafts of poems and essays from his books, which include five books of poetry and three books of critical essays. He is one of the most prominent writers of the “New Formalist” school of poetry, a movement that promoted the return of meter and rhyme, although his arts advocacy work situates him in a broader frame.
“In his correspondence, you see a writer who has been willing to engage the young and old, the esteemed and emergent — anyone who wants to critically discuss poetic form, contemporary audiences for poetry, and the importance of literary reading during decades when popular culture has become increasingly visual and attention spans have fractured,” said Karla Nielsen, curator of literary collections at The Huntington. “We are delighted that Dana has entrusted his papers to The Huntington, where his collection fits perfectly. He is a local author — he grew up in a Mexican/Sicilian American household in Hawthorne — and even as he attained international recognition as a poet and assumed the chairmanship of the NEA, he remained loyal to the region and invested in Los Angeles’ unique literary communities.”

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