Cliff Becker, the director of literature at the National Endowment of the Arts, died on May 17 of a heart attack. He was 40 years old.
"We are hearbroken by Cliff's sudden and untimely death," Dana Gioia, chairman of the NEA, said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. All of us at the NEA grieve with them at this great loss."
Becker began working at the NEA in 1992 as a program specialist in the literature department. He was named the director of literature in January 1999, and oversaw the organization's grants to literary organizations and individual writers and translators. Most recently Becker helped launch the NEA's National Poetry Recitation Contest.
He is survived by his wife, Leila, and daughter, Sahara.