Culture in America
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.
Topic: Culture in America
Dana Gioia: I’m the Chairman of the official arts agency of the United States government. When I first came to the job five years ago, it was not an easy job. In fact the previous chairman – a wonderful man named Michael Hammond – died after seven days. I mean it was a job of enormous pressure. The agency was endangered. The staff was embattled, demoralized. And it was an enormous task that most people thought was insolvable. . I have indeed solved it. But what I tried to do was something very simple, which was to ignore all expert advice and to go back to what the agency was begun as during the “Great Society” program as a vision of what America might draw from the arts. And I tried to ignore all of the controversies that had really paralyzed the agency for the better part of . . . of two decades and focus it on something quite simple: to bring the best art possible to the broadest audience possible; to create large public partnerships where we could essentially enrich and, I hope, transform the lives of millions of Americans. We did this without adequate budget, without adequate staff, resources or skills. But we did it . . . And I think maybe I’m idealistic. Maybe I’m a pathetic, Jimmy Stewart type in believing this. We did it out of idealism, and I think that there’s not enough idealism in Washington right now. And lots of people came to our aid. The struggle in my professional life as Arts Endowment Chair is to take the programs we have and bring them to more people than we can afford. Which is to, in a sense, to create partnerships, to create resources, to break through barriers. And how do we bring arts into the military? How do we bring them into Native American communities, and to inner cities and to prisons when there aren’t the avenues to do that easily? And so . . . but it’s a joyful struggle, I think. I think that when you have something good that you’re bringing to people, you know, it fills you with a kind of pleasure.
Recorded on: 7/6/2007
Gioia hopes to bring the best art to the most people through her position as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.
The stories we tell define history. So who gets the mic in America?
- History is written by lions. But it's also recorded by lambs.
- In order to understand American history, we need to look at the events of the past as more prismatic than the narrative given to us in high school textbooks.
- Including different voices can paint a more full and vibrant portrait of America. Which is why more walks of American life can and should be storytellers.
A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.
Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you.
The controversy around the Torah codes gets a new life.
- Mathematicians claim to see a predictive pattern in the ancient Torah texts.
- The code is revealed by a method found with special computer software.
- Some events described by reading the code took place after the code was written.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.