Last week, West Chester Poetry Conference Founder Dana Gioia was named Poet Laureate of California. I am not here to pass judgment on the man or the poetry (Noting in passing that I love the triolet sequence “A Country Wife,” if nothing else) but I do want to call attention to the remarkable omission of Gioia’s achievement in co-founding the West Chester Poetry Conference from the bio in the article covering his selection.
As others have said to me, maybe this isn’t such a big deal? After all, who in California would have heard of West Chester? Maybe it just wasn’t relevant to the people involved?
But I investigated further. Although the Poetry Foundation website and the Academy of American Poets website (venues over which Dana has no control) still talk about his co-founding of West Chester, his wikipedia entry no longer does. Someone has edited it out. Even more interestingly, the bio on his personal website no longer mentions it either.
Why has West Chester Poetry Conference Founder Dana Gioia scrubbed this fact out of his bio?
Let’s be fair here: all writers continually tinker with our bios. Sheesh, as an editor, I can’t tell you how often a Barefoot Muse Press book or a new issue of the Raintown Review is about to go to press and I get a request to change a bio.
But to remove the fact that you co-founded (with Mike Peich) an important Poetry Conference which ran successfully for 20 years suggests to me that you might have insider knowledge about a soon to be breaking scandal.