The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts notes with great sadness the passing of a friend: National Endowment for the Arts literature program director Cliff Becker. Cliff died suddenly on May 17th of a heart attack.
NEA Chairman Dana Gioia referred to Cliff as “an important part of the fabric and personality of the Arts Endowment. He was beloved by his colleagues. And he loved them.” He went on to say that, “during his 13 years at the Endowment, he nurtured our Literature programs with an understanding of how literature can open the heart and mind to a new and greater understanding of the world. He was widely respected in the field for his regard not only for the written word, but also for those who write and those who read. He will be missed deeply.”
We, too, will miss Cliff. He was here in Rhode Island often, working with and helping our community of writers and poets. One of his last visits was in the fall of last year, when he represented Chairman Gioia at a literature event at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University in Newport.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Cliff’s family and to his many friends at the Endowment and throughout the country.