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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[…]

Gioia leans towards interviewing artists whose minds he finds interesting, but figures he’d get tongue tied.

Question: Whom would you like to interview, and what would you ask?

Dana Gioia: My fourteen year old son’s asking if I can meet anybody in the world, who I would meet. And the choices I always give him are very disappointing because they’re mostly artists whose minds I find very interesting. Tom ______ I would love to sit and talk to. But the fact is that if I meet somebody that I greatly admire – even though I myself am a person of some stature – I’m sort of tongue-tied. They’re tongue-tied. And meetings need to happen naturally. I mean for example, my favorite . . . one of my favorite musicians is Aimee Mann. You know I went to an Aimee Mann concert, went backstage, talked to her for a while. Fascinating. Great gal. But you know what is it? I’m some stranger that, you know, she’s invited into her . . . into her backstage. And the conversation we had was somewhat forced. And the people that I would most like to meet are my dearest friends whom I see to seldom, and with whom when I get together I have wonderful, deep, joyful conversations, or exuberant arguments. And if, in the course of my life I can add to my friends; or I can meet, you know a few great artists with whom I develop . . . or with whom we develop mutual friendship, I can’t imagine anything more pleasurable, more enriching in life. The people I most definitely don’t wanna meet are the high and the mighty. You know I salute them from my . . . from the depths of my Bohemian being. Let them go on about their life. But I think it’s a very dangerous thing for an artist to try to cultivate wealth to cultivate power. If it happens naturally, that’s wonderful. But you know you should always meet people in a democracy as equals. You respect them, they respect you. And I don’t want to live in a _______ society where people are ______ favor for their own advantage. I think that’s dangerous.

Recorded On: 7/6/07