An accomplished poet, Gioia said his conversations with Bush, who included a NEA poetry pavilion at her National Book Festival last year, extend beyond business.
“We talk a great deal about art, including theater, painting, music and dance,” he said. “But the conversation inevitably drifts to books. We are both passionate readers with wide-ranging tastes. We also share certain favorite authors like Willa Cather. But we talk about all sorts of books. I remember one conversation included Langston Hughes, Raymond Chandler, W.G. Sebald, Evan Connell, Harper Lee and Truman Capote.”
Even with effective press handlers, First-Lady status often means taking it on the chin, but so far Bush has avoided any measurable roughing up, unlike predecessors Hillary Clinton and Nancy Reagan. “The way she most stays above the fray is being authentically herself. She’s very comfortable in her own skin,” says Ann Gerhart, author of “The Perfect Wife,” a biography the First Lady choose not to be involved with. “She knows exactly who she is and what she wants for her own life....She has this emotional clarity about herself.”