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California Poet Laureate to Read at Walter Presents

California Poet Laureate will be reading for the California Writers Series on the California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) campus on Thursday, December 1st at 7 p.m., in the Dezember Room of Walter Stiern Library. The reading is free and open to the public. Parking permits will be available to purchase in the parking lot.

“This reading will be a wonderful opportunity to hear from one of California’s greatest advocates for poetry and literature,” said Marit MacArthur, associate professor of English and director of the California Writers Series.

Dana Gioia, of Santa Rosa, has been the Judge Widney professor of poetry and public culture at the University of Southern California since 2011.Gioia was born in Hawthorne, California, the son of a Sicilian father and a Mexican mother. He attended Junipero Serra High School in Gardena and became the first person in his family to attend college. As chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts from 2003 to 2009, Gioia launched several nationwide programs to expand public support for the arts and for arts education, with a focus on fostering youth creativity and expression.

In 2003, Gioia co-edited the anthology California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present as part of the California Legacy Project. The collection, which has been praised by the Los Angeles Times Review of Books and California State Librarian Emeritus Kevin Starr, features poetry from 101 authors and explores California's cultural history, a prominent theme in Gioia's writings. He has published four books of poetry and three collections of essays.

The California native's body of work has received wide critical acclaim, including his 1991 volume Can Poetry Matter? which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award and triggered national discussion on the role of poetry in American public culture. Gioia is also a winner of the American Book Award and was honored with the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2008 for his public service in support of the arts.

The reading will be followed by a discussion with the author and a book sale and signing, sponsored by Russo’s Books.

The California Writers Series, begun in 2006, is sponsored by the CSUB English Department, Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society, Walter Presents and Walter Stiern Library. Previous readers have included several Pulitzer Prize winners and New York Times best-selling authors, including Kay Ryan, Wanda Coleman, Joe Wenderoth, Susana Chavez-Silverman, Pam Houston, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Brian Turner, Aimee Phan, Frank Bidart, Alex Espinoza, Matthew Zapruder, Lucy Corin, Marisa Silver, Clarence Major, Rae Armantrout, Matthew Spektor, Kevin Clark, Tatjana Soli, Harryette Mullen, Mona Simpson, and Don Thompson.

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