California Arts Council

State of California

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May 09, 2017Kimberly Brown

California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia to Read at Memorial Day Commemoration

Monday, May 29th, at San Francisco National Cemetery at the Presidio

SAN FRANCISCO - California Poet Laureate Dana Gioia will pay tribute to military veterans and their families during a special Memorial Day Commemoration on Monday, May 29, at the Presidio. Produced by the Presidio Trust and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the free, public event marks the 149th observation by the City and County of San Francisco, and will feature a veterans march, a formal ceremony, a gun salute and community picnic.

Gioia will be among the speakers during the formal ceremony at the National Cemetery, marking the occasion with a recitation of his work "Finding a Box of Family Letters," in which the poet contemplates a photograph of his father in uniform. He will also read an excerpt from English poet Laurence Binyon's "For the Fallen." The reading will directly follow a ceremony honoring Gold Star Family Dennis and Norma Viglienzone, whose son, Pfc. Caesar Viglienzone, U.S. Army, was killed in action in Iraq in 2006.

"Mr. Gioia's body of work is filled with nuanced and sophisticated interpretations of the human experience. His active and long-established pursuit of military connection through poetry, exemplified in his poetry and his work with Operation Homecoming at the National Endowment for the Arts, shows an active and durable commitment to the veteran experience. We are honored he is joining us," said Gerard Choucroun, Director of Veterans Programs at Presidio Trust.

The ceremony, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay, is part of the largest Memorial Day commemoration on the West Coast, attracting more than 1,500 attendees annually. The event honors the memory of the 1 million soldiers who have died in service to the United States, but this year's event takes a renewed focus on more recent history, recognizing the commitment and sacrifices of modern veterans, active duty military and their families.

"I'm honored to participate in this solemn and important occasion. The emotional weight of the event deserves to be celebrated and commemorated with poetry," said Gioia.

For event press inquiries, please contact Clay Harrell, Senior Communications Account Executive at Presidio Trust. For inquires related to Dana Gioia, contact Kimberly Brown, Public Affairs Specialist at the California Arts Council.

About Dana Gioia

Dana Gioia is California's state Poet Laureate. Appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in December, 2015, Gioia serves as the state advocate for poetry and literature in libraries, classrooms and boardrooms across California. An award-winning poet, Gioia is the author of "Can Poetry Matter?," which is credited for helping revive poetry's role in American public life. He is also the former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts where he championed arts education. As state laureate, Gioia works to inspire a new generation of writers and celebrate California's great literary legacy. For more information visit

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The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts; fostering accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California's diverse populations; serving as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and providing effective and relevant programs and services.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Donn K. Harris, Vice Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Larry Baza, Phoebe Beasley, Christopher Coppola, Juan Devis, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Louise McGuinness, Steven Oliver, and Rosalind Wyman. Learn more at

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