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Daniela Gioseffi ’63

The award-winning poet looks back on the experiences that cultivated her love of the written word, and inspired her to do it all in her extensive career in literature, performance and teaching.

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Daniela Gioseffi

Daniela Gioseffi’s love of poetry has brought her numerous awards, publications and prestige – and it all began right here at Montclair State where she first heard a lecture in 1961 by famous poet, John Ciardi. She was awarded the John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry decades later in 2007.  Her verse was etched in marble on a Wall of Penn Station, in the 7th Ave. Concourse of NJ Transit along with that of Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams in 2002, iconic poets of American literature. One can read Daniela Gioseffi’s verse there.

Dorothy, as she was known during her undergraduate days at Montclair State College, experienced Emily Dickinson’s poetry in Dr. Broussard’s class. She still looks back on the experiences that cultivated her love of the written word and her recent book on the life of Emily Dickinson. “Dr. Broussard was inspirational,” she said of her professor. He was only one of a few inspirational faculty members Daniela met while attending Montclair State. Dr. Steven Earley, another English professor, inspired his students by showing them images of his world travels and narrating them in a knowledgeable and witty manner that related to literary art. Gioseffi connected with him intellectually, and the two remained friends after she graduated.

While an undergraduate, Daniela was involved with the Drama department. She minored in Speech and Theater and made many friends within the program. One of the highlights of her Montclair State theater career was playing Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion under the direction of Dr. Howard Fox. The speech and diction training she received from the program, and for playing the role, stayed with her years after the production. Even today, she does the cockney accent perfectly! She spent many years teaching voice, diction and oral interpretation as well as creative writing in colleges and universities around the Metropolitan area. For some years, she performed as an Equity Actress in summer Off-Broadway theatre, as well.

Her time at Montclair State College wasn’t just in theater and literature, though. Gioseffi had to put herself through school, and worked every job from babysitter to cashier to restaurant hostess at the local Howard Johnson to do it! As the daughter of an Italian immigrant who’d put himself through college to earn a Phi Beta Kappa, education and hard work were extremely important to Gioseffi. Success was her only option, one into which she poured all her energy and determination.

Today, Daniela’s hard work continues to pay off. She has published fourteen books, one of which, Women at War: International Writings from Antiquity to the Present, won the American Book Award in 1990. Since graduating from Montclair State, she has acted, taught creative writing, and presented her work at venues around the world. Her current interest is editing, a genre of literary website dealing with humankind’s relationship with, and responsibility to, Earth and the fact of climate crisis. She hopes to visit Montclair State University soon to share her work with its current students. Daniela joined her 50th reunion committee and delivered a poem in tribute to the Class of 1963 at the reunion luncheon in May 2013.