Dana Gioia, national arts executive, poet and librettist, will participate in symposia Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 with Oklahoma leaders in the arts. He will also deliver the sixth McBride Lecture on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. in Gaylord University Center on the campus of Oklahoma Christian University. The program is free and open to the public. During his visit to Oklahoma, Gioia also will meet with teachers who sponsor Oklahoma students in the national Poetry Out Loud competition.
“Dana Gioia is an artist whose contributions to American culture are broad as well as deep,” said Dr. Scott LaMascus, director of the McBride Center for Faith and Literature. “He is a poet, a musician, a devoted public servant, an accomplished executive, and much more. We are delighted to share Gioia’s visit with Oklahomans – teachers, poets, opera lovers, scholars, and all who prize creativity and excellence.”
Gioia’s poetry collection Interrogations at Noon has been recognized by the American Book Award. While Chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts, Gioia helped the Poetry Foundation and others begin the national Poetry Out Loud project, which organizes annual, statewide competitions in poetry recitation and end with a national competition in Washington, D.C., where state winners compete for university scholarship funds.
Gioia also is editor of many anthologies and author of two essay collections: Can Poetry Matter? (1992) and Disappearing Ink (2004).
The statewide kick-off for Poetry Out Loud 2010-2011 will include a luncheon for teachers offered by The Oklahoma Humanities Council and the Oklahoma Arts Council. Gioia will speak to teachers at the luncheon, followed by a workshop by University of Oklahoma poet Nathan Brown. The luncheon is free with RSVP to the OHC by calling 405-235-0280 before Sept. 24. Continuing Education credit is available from the workshop.
Also trained as a musician, Gioia also is recognized for his work with opera. His opera “The Last Broadcast of Tony Caruso” was recognized as the 2007 Best New Opera by the American Opera Association.
While in Oklahoma City, Gioia will participate in a presentation of selections from the opera “Nosferatu” with insights by the librettist. The event features Regina Grimaldi, soprano; Catherine McDaniel, mezzo soprano, Frank Ragsdale, tenor and the Oklahoma Christian University Chorale, conducted by Dr. Ken Adams, professor of music at OC. Seating is limited but the event is free with RSVP, LaMascus said. To reserve a seat, call 405-425-5330. The event is Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Hall in Garvey Center on the OC campus.
“We are delighted to share Gioia with Oklahoma’s creativity leaders and, courtesy of the Kirkpatrick Foundation, we will be hosting arts leaders in a discussion of public funding for the arts,” said LaMascus. Arts leaders will gather for a breakfast roundtable with Gioia.
Literature scholars will gather for the Southwest Conference on Christianity and Literature for their annual conference Sept. 30 to Oct. 2. As keynote speaker for this group, Gioia will deliver the sixth McBride Lecture on Oct. 1 at 8 p.m. in Gaylord University Center. The lecture is free and will be followed by a free book-signing reception, with book sales provided by Best of Books.
The theme for the SWCCL program is taken from Gioia’s essay collection Disappearing Ink, in which Gioia discusses how the position of poets has been changing in American culture. The theme, “Christian Literary Values and the Changing Print Culture,” will bring scholars from surrounding states and across the nation, according to Merle Gatewood, SWCCL program chair and OC professor.
In addition to panels of scholars presenting research on topics related to literature and faith, the SWCCL program includes plenary sessions concerning the work of Ralph Wood. Long-time professor at Baylor University, Wood is being honored by alumni of the program in which he taught.
“These sessions, in particular, are drawing scholars from many states outside our region and make a marvelous contribution to the SWCCL program. All the CCL program is thanks to Merle Gatewood, 2010 SWCCL conference chair. She has worked hard on this project all summer long by leading a committee of OC faculty and staff,” LaMascus said.
This program is funded in part by the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily represent those of the OHC or NEH.
Additional funding for the McBride Center for Faith & Literature is provided by Oklahoma Christian University and its alumni; and annual sponsorships by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; the Inasmuch Foundation; and Oklahoma City Community Foundation. Best of Books in Edmond’s Kickingbird Square is providing book sales.
“Who else but Dana Gioia to get into our quiet little poetic rooms bringing vibrant music and busting out large openings to places where the rapper Sugargang Hill, Mother Goose, Kipling, and cowboy poet Wallace McRae live together, if not quite in peace, then in a meaningful, creative tension,” LaMascus said. “Hurrah for America, for all poets, and all of us who are listening!”