The poems of Dana Gioia speak to the first and highest things, and draw their prosody from the fundamental elements of human experience: love and landscape, melody and memory, word and spirit—and death.

Thirty years ago, Gioia and his wife lost their first son, four-month old Michael Jasper, to sudden infant death syndrome. As Gioia has recounted in interviews, the grief of that experience darkened and deadened him—until, “like a fire,” it led him back to grace.

On what would have been Michael’s twenty-first birthday, Gioia wrote “Majority,” first published in First Things. Recently, to commemorate what would have been Michael’s thirtieth birthday, Gioia returned to that poem. See his recitation in the video below:


Dana Gioia is Poet Laureate of California, former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and a contributor and occasional performer for First Things.

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