Alberto Ríos

poet laureate icon
1952 –
Poet Laureate of Arizona, 2013–

Alberto Álvaro Ríos was born on September 18, 1952, in Nogales, Arizona. He received a BA degree in 1974, a second BA in 1975, and an MFA in creative writing in 1979, all from the University of Arizona.

Ríos is the author of thirteen books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, a memoir, and a novel. His poetry collections include Not Go Away is My Name (Copper Canyon Press, 2020); A Small Story about the Sky (Copper Canyon Press, 2015); The Dangerous Shirt (Copper Canyon Press, 2009); The Theater of Night (Copper Canyon Press, 2005), winner of the 2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Award, along with The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2002), a finalist for the National Book Award; Teodoro Luna’s Two Kisses (W. W. Norton, 1990); The Warrington Poems (Pyracantha Press, 1989); The Lime Orchard Woman (Sheep Meadow Press, 1988); Five Indiscretions (Sheep Meadow Press, 1985); and Whispering to Fool the Wind (Sheep Meadow Press, 1982), which won the 1981 Walt Whitman Award selected by Donald Justice

Ríos’s three collections of short stories are The Curtain of Trees (University of New Mexico Press, 1999); Pig Cookies (Chronicle Books, 1995); and The Iguana Killer: Twelve Stories of the Heart (Blue Moon and Confluence Press, 1984), which won the Western States Book Award for Fiction and was later reissued by University of New Mexico Press in 1998. His memoir about growing up on the Mexico-Arizona border—Capirotada: A Nogales Memoir (University of New Mexico Press, 1999)—won the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award and was chosen as the OneBookArizona selection. He has also published the novel A Good Map of All Things: A Picaresque Novel (The University of Arizona Press, 2020). Ríos’s poetry has been included in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, as well as in more than three hundred other literary anthologies. His work is regularly taught and translated, and has been adapted to dance and both classical and popular music.

Ríos is the recent host of Eight/KAET-TV Arizona’s PBS ground-breaking original productions Art in the 48, a look at Arizona-based artists, for which he won a Rocky Mountain Emmy Award, and Books & Co., where he provides viewers with exclusive access to renowned authors and fresh faces on the literary scene.

Ríos has been honored with the University of Arizona’s Outstanding Alumnus Award. He is also the recipient of the Western Literature Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award, the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additionally, he has received six Pushcart Prizes in both poetry and fiction.

Ríos is a Regents’ Professor at Arizona State University, where he has taught since 1982, and holds the further distinctions of the Katharine C. Turner Endowed Chair in English, the Virginia G. Piper Chair in Creative Writing, and University Professor of Letters. He is Arizona’s inaugural poet laureate and a former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In 2017, he was named director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing.