Dana Gioia
Poet; Former Chmn, National Endowment of the Arts
01:56

Dana Gioia reads Summer Storm

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"Summer Storm": a ballad.

Dana Gioia

Former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Dana Gioia is an internationally acclaimed and award-winning poet. A native Californian of Italian and Mexican descent, Gioia (pronounced JOY-uh) received a B.A. and a M.B.A. from Stanford University and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University.

Gioia has published three full-length collections of poetry, as well as eight chapbooks. His poetry collection, Interrogations at Noon, won the 2002 American Book Award. An influential critic as well, Gioia's 1991 volume Can Poetry Matter?, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award, is credited with helping to revive the role of poetry in American public culture.

Transcript

Topic: Dana Gioia reads Summer Storm

Dana Gioia: Let me recite a ballad that begins at a wedding. It’s called “Summer Storm”.

“We stood on a rented patio while the party went on inside. You knew the groom from college. I was a friend of the bride. We hugged the brownstone wall behind us to keep our dress clothes dry and watched the sudden summer storm ________ against the sky.The rain was like a waterfall of brilliant ________. Cool and silent as the stars. The storm hid from the night. To my surprise, you took my arm. A gesture you didn’t explain. And we spoke in whispers, as if we too might imitate the rain.Then suddenly the storm receded as quickly as it came. The doors behind us opened up. The hostess called your name.I watched you merge into the crowd, aloof and yet alive. We didn’t speak another word except to say goodnight.Why does that evening’s memory return with this night’s storm? A party 20 years ago, its disappointments warm. There are so many might have beens. What ifs that won’t stay buried. Other cities. Other jobs. Strangers we might have married.And memory insists on pining for places it never went, as if life might be happier just by being different.”

 

Recorded On: 7/6/07


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