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Latino Daily News

Thursday August 22, 2013

HISPANIC STANDOUT:  Alberto Rios Arizona’s First Poet Laureate

HISPANIC STANDOUT:  Alberto Rios Arizona’s First Poet Laureate

Photo: Arizona Poet Laureate: Alberto Rios

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Hispanic standout, renowned poet and Regents Professor Alberto Rios has been selected as Arizona’s first Poet Laureate.

Rios, 61, has authored ten books of poetry, three story books and a memoir “Capirotada”.  His memoir told of his youth spent living on the Mexico-Arizona border; it won the Latino Literacy Hall of Fame Award.  He has received many other recognitions for his work including the Walt Whitman Award in Poetry.  The poet and academic started as an English professor at Arizona State University and reached the highest faculty rank in the state’s university system being named Regent in 1989.

His poetry has been featured in more than ninety literary anthologies.  His poetry collection ‘The Theater of Night” was honored with the PEN/Beyond Margins award and “The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body” was a National Book Award finalist.

His work is often taught in college curriculum and has been adapted to dance and both classical and popular music. 

Rios, a native of Nogales, has three degrees from the University of Arizona.  When he received the honor from Governor Jan Brewer and Arizona’s Commission on the Arts he noted “A small-town border kid from Nogales to poet laureate - this is a good story, an Arizona story. As the state’s first poet laureate, the work of inventing this job is now at hand, and I’m very much looking forward to the adventure.”

Arizona became the 43rd state to establish a Poet Laureate; it did so last year in honor of its centennial year of statehood.  According to Governor Jan Brewer, the purpose of this position is to “commemorate Arizona literary artists whose work and service best represent Arizona’s values, independence and unique Western history and culture.”