Gioia is a critic, poet and former businessman. He initially worked as a marketing executive for General Foods Corporation. He wrote poetry while working at General Foods, and resigned in the 1990s to write full-time. From 2003 to 2009, Gioia was chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. He worked to revitalize an organization that had suffered controversies about the nature of federal grants to artists. Gioia also taught as a visiting writer at Wesleyan University in Middletown.
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