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California’s Poet Laureate Hits The Road In Cross-State Tour

California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia in an undated photo.

Credit: California Arts Council

Above: California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia in an undated photo.

California's Poet Laureate Hits The Road In Cross-State Tour


Dana Gioia, California poet laureate


There have been some minor casualties in California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia's tour across the state's 58 counties.

"I’ll put 1,000 miles a week on my car, easily," Gioia said. "I’ve gone through two sets of tires."

Gioia is making a point to hold events beyond the traditional poetry enclaves of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Berkeley. So far, he has visited 41 counties, including a visit to San Diego last year. He is returning Monday for a reading at the San Diego Central Library at 6 p.m. Gioia's events feature performances from other local writers, including winners of the national Poetry Out Loud student competition. He plans to visit Imperial County this fall.

Gioia's favorite event so far was in Sierra County's Downieville, where officials closed the schools and had all 51 students from elementary through high school attend the event and read an original poem of their own.

"It was the best Q & A period I ever had," Gioia said. "They asked, 'What’s your birthday?' and I said Christmas Eve. That caused all kinds of discussion."

Gioia, a former chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, joined KPBS Midday Edition on Monday with more about his trip across the state and the perennial arts funding battle in Washington, D.C.


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