Archive for January 14th, 2023

Dana Gioia is having a party – and you can come, too! Celebrate his sixth collection of poems on Feb. 16!

Saturday, January 14th, 2023
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Award-winning poet and critic Dana Gioia‘s new collection, Meet Me At the Lighthouse, is out with Graywolf Press next month – and you’re all invited to the launch party! Sign up for the event at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, February 16 over at Eventbrite here. The reading and reception will be held at Arion Press/Grabhorn Institute at 1802 Hays Street in San Francisco. (And you can pre-order the book here.)

The poet’s filmmaker son Mike Gioia produced a short Youtube video to honor the occasion. The two-minute spot features Dana reading the title poem of the new collection. (It’s his sixth. His earlier 99 Poems: New & Selected was winner of the Poets’ Prize, and Interrogations at Noon won of the American Book Award.)

Dana Gioia is also former California poet laureate and a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and appears regularly in the Book Haven. You may have read about him here and here and here. And for that matter, Meet Me At the Lighthouse may strike a familiar chord with Book Haven aficionados. We wrote here about some of the poems in the collection: “The Ballad of Jesús Ortiz, “Psalm and Lament for Los Angeles, “Psalm of the Heights” and “Psalm for Our Lady Queen of the Angels.”

The poet was born in California, and is of working-class Sicilian and Latino descent, as is evident from the poems in this collection. He has degrees from Stanford and Harvard.

More on the title poem, from Dana himself: “Jazz fans will recognize the names of the ghosts sitting in with the Lighthouse All-Stars — Gerry Mulligan, Cannonball Adderley, Hampton Hawes, Stan Getz, Chet Baker, and Art Pepper. Tartarus is the abyss of the Underworld.”

“I should point out that I am the only living person in the poem. It doesn’t matter for the reader to know, but I speak the poem to my dead cousin Phil, my best friend in childhood.” The cousin, Philip Dragotto, died at thirty-nine.

“The first two images show the jazz club, and at the end all of the musicians are shown.” The music is a song by Helen Sung for which Gioia wrote the lyrics.

The February 16 reading starts at 6:30 p.m. followed by a book signing with the poet. Come an hour early for a glass of wine at the reception! (Come say hello to me, too – I’ll be there!)

Meanwhile, since both Dana and I spend most of our days writing, what better way to celebrate the occasion of the sixth collection than with a poem about “Words, Words, Words”: