National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia -- also a Sonoma County poet and literary critic -- announced today that he will step down from his post as head of the federal arts agency in January.
Gioia, 57, plans to divide his time between writing and a position at the Aspen Institute as the institute's first director of the Harman-Eisner Program in the Arts.
While Gioia's current term would have continued through December 2010, the Bush appointee told The Times: "The reason I'm leaving is to be a poet. I've given up six years of my creative life for public service, and I'm not allowed to publish while I'm in office. I shall never have a more exciting job than the NEA, but a poet needs a little boredom."
Gioia became the ninth chairman of the NEA in February 2003. Agency initiatives during his tenure include the Shakespeare in American Communities program and the Big Read, to restore reading as a center of American culture.