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Dana Gioia

The Intimacy of Literature

We need literature to understand life and feel our humanity. This award-winning poet is dedicated to teaching and sharing the value of words.

On This Episode
Few people understand the bounty of language as well as Dana Gioia.

Dana is a deeply accomplished poet and author with five collections of verse, four books of essays, and an American Book Award, among other accolades and accomplishments. He is credited with reviving national interest in literature during his tenure as chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, and he brought poetry to residents in every county in California during a four-year term as poet laureate of the state.

He wrote at night while building a successful business career, until his literary work took off — making him the “only person to go to business school to become a poet.” Dana believes having a command of language is essential to living a full life, to defining yourself and your place in the world. And he recognizes that literature allows people — especially children — to experience milestone events in print before facing them, which offers an imaginative preparation so they’re not caught off-guard by life. That’s why he’s passionately dedicated to teaching and sharing the generosity of words.

As a businessman myself, I knew little about poetry before talking to Dana. For this interview, I was joined by co-host Maggie Blake Bailey, who knows a great deal about fine literature. She is a published poet herself, and also my daughter.

On this episode you'll find out:
  • How learning is like a love affair Why Dana feared his coworkers would start checking his math
  • How poetry is similar to business management
  • Why "fighting" to save the NEA was the wrong metaphor

To learn even more about Dana, visit his website at

Enter to Win Dana’s New Book For Free

Dana’s newest book, Studying with Miss Bishop, is an engaging literary memoir and expression of gratitude. In a collection of essays, Dana describes six family members, teachers, and writers who guided him from growing up in a working-class L.A. suburb to becoming a famous poet.

We’re giving away 100 copies of Dana’s book, which I think you’ll love. Click here to enter to win for free — but hurry, because the contest ends March 15.

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