Dana Gioia is a poet, essayist, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts – and a former vice president of marketing for General Foods (now part of Kraft). In 1991, while he was still helping sell Jell-O (a brand is largely credited with reviving), he wrote an article for The Atlantic entitled “Can Poetry Matter,” which caused something of an uproar in the poetry world.
Gioia argued that poetry had been captured by academia, and had become disconnected from its reading public. Poetry was in danger of becoming irrelevant to anyone except poets who were increasingly the people who taught poetry.
Yes, he was a published poet, but he was also a business executive. Worse, he was a business executive who could write a well-argued essay about literary culture. And his analysis was largely correct, which might explain some of the outrage that followed.
To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.