Christopher P. Stephens, Bookman

Chris Stephens has been a book dealer since 1965 - earlier if you count childhood buying and selling.

Stephens has sold major collections to university libraries all over the world. He has operated appealing bookstores in Mt. Carroll, Illinois, Hastings on Hudson, NY and several in NYC, NY. He is a wholesale dealer to other bookstores all over the world.

Chris loves books.

Stephens now maintains a lively internet operation out of his new home in Scranton, PA.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Dana Gioia

2 b&w photos - photo credit Christopher P. Stephens 
 Dana Gioia and Frank Scioscia in front of riverrun 1984

     Dana Gioia discovered riverrun shortly after the store opened.  He and Frank Scioscia became fast friends.  They were a generation apart but they shared a way of thinking about books, authors, readers and life.
     Dana's wife, Mary Gioia, and Frank's wife, Mary Scioscia also became close friends.  The two Marys  belonged to the Hastings Literature Club which celebrates its 100th year anniversary this autumn.   The couples saw each other often.
     When they moved to Hastings both Dana and Mary Gioia worked in management at General Foods.  Dana Gioia kept his poetry on low profile, really no-profile, at GF.  In a parallel world to his work there, his poems were being widely published.   The way I remember this story (but have not been able to corroborate) is that Esquire Magazine ran an article, in the early 1980s,  on the most promising young new poets.  Dana Gioia was named as one of the best.
      The poetry-cat was out of the bag.  Some people had trouble reconciling excellence in poetry with his excellence in business but it was disparate talents like these that later made him so exceptional a Chairman at the National Endowment for the Arts.
     He became the Chairman in 2003, when the organization was riven by external controversy and internal confusion.  He was enthusiastic about art for the widest public.  He introduced great programs like memoir and poetry by returning soldiers, the nation-wide reading project - The Big Read,  community Shakespeare, and more.
     Dana Gioia left the National Endowment for the Arts this January.  He stopped and visited riverrun "on his way" to California.
     I wonder what he will do next.  With his many interests, his many talents, I bet it will be another something big.

Some students at Lyceum Kennedy in NYC enjoying The Big Read with Fahrenheit 451

Dana Gioia's poetry collections: Interrogations at Noon,  Gods of Winter,  Daily Horoscope
Gioia's other books:  Disappearing Ink,  Can Poetry Matter?, Barrier of Language
There are many other articles, essays, poems, anthologies, translations and also libretti

Dana Gioia's website
some video clips of Gioia
a very interesting excerpt from a commencement speech given by Gioia and printed in WSJ

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