Zheng Edits Scholarly Edition of Conversations with Dana Gioia

February 4, 2021

Dr. John Zheng recently edited a scholarly edition, Conversations with Dana Gioia, which the University Press of Mississippi published in December of 2020.

Zheng is chair and professor of English at Mississippi Valley State University and editor of four other editions, Conversations with Sterling Plumpp; The Other World of Richard Wright: Perspectives on His Haiku; African American Haiku: Cultural Visions; and Sonia Sanchez's Poetic Spirit through Haiku. His forthcoming book is A Way of Looking, a poetry collection that won the Gerald Cable Book Prize.

Conversations with Dana Gioia is the first collection of interviews with the internationally known poet, critic, public intellectual, and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, covering every stage of his busy, polymathic career.

Gioia has made many contributions to contemporary American literature and culture, including but not limited to crafting a personal poetic style suited to the age; leading the revival of rhyme, meter, and narrative through New Formalism; walloping the “intellectual ghetto” of American poetry through his epochal article “Can Poetry Matter?”; helping American poetry move forward by organizing influential conferences; providing public service and initiating nationwide arts projects such as Big Read and Poetry Out Loud through his leadership of the National Endowment for the Arts; editing twenty best-selling literary anthologies widely used in American classrooms.

Taken together, the twenty-two collected interviews increase our understanding of Gioia’s poetry and poetics, offer aesthetic pleasure in themselves, and provide a personal encounter with a writer who has made poetry matter. The book presents the actual voice of Dana Gioia, who speaks of his personal and creative life and articulates his unique vision of American culture and poetry.