On December 24, 1950, Dana Gioia was born in Hawthorne, California. He received a BA from Stanford University. Before returning to Stanford to earn an MBA, he completed an MA in comparative literature at Harvard University, where he studied with the poets Robert Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Bishop. In 1977 he moved to New York to begin a career in business. For fifteen years Gioia worked as a businessman, eventually becoming a vice president of General Foods. In 1992, after publishing his first book of poetry, Daily Horoscope (Graywolf Press), in 1986, he left business to become a full-time writer.
Gioia is the author of several poetry collections, including 99 Poems: New & Selected (Graywolf Press, 2016), Interrogations at Noon (Graywolf Press, 2001), winner of the American Book Award; The Gods of Winter (1991); and Daily Horoscope (1986).
His critical collection, Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture (Graywolf, 1992), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award in Criticism. Since then, Gioia has published two other collections of criticism, Barrier of a Common Language: An American Looks at Contemporary British Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 2003) and Disappearing Ink: Poetry at the End of Print Culture (Graywolf Press, 2004).
He has also written an opera libretto, Nosferatu, translated Eugenio Montale's Mottetti (Graywolf Press, 1990), coedited two anthologies of Italian poetry and four of the nation's best-selling college literature textbooks.
Gioia has cofounded two major literary conferences. In 1995 he helped create the West Chester University summer conference on Form and Narrative, which is now the largest annual poetry-writing conference in the United States. In 2001 he began "Teaching Poetry," a conference in Santa Rosa, California, dedicated to improving high school teaching of poetry. He has also taught as a visiting writer at Colorado College, Johns Hopkins, Sarah Lawrence, Mercer, and Wesleyan University. From 2003 to 2009, Gioia served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2015, he was appointed poet laureate of California. He lives in Sonoma County, California, with his wife and two sons.