Poet Alberto Ríos: an Arizonan with border roots
Alberto Ríos, a Regents’ Professor of English at Arizona State University and newly appointed poet laureate for the state of Arizona, was hailed as a “son of the border” in the top story on NBC Latino, Aug. 27.
Ríos, who also holds the Katharine C. Turner Chair in English at ASU, was raised in Nogales, Ariz., along the U.S.-Mexico border. His father grew up in Mexico and his mother emigrated from England. The article explained how this mix of cultures helped Ríos become the writer he is today, by giving him multiple ways of looking at things. Ríos has said, “I grew up with an open border.”
In addition to NBC Latino, dozens of other news outlets have interviewed and lauded Ríos, including the Arizona Republic (“All Hail our Versifier in Chief”), the Phoenix New Times – who facetiously asked Ríos, “[D]o you get to wear anything special, like a crown, or a fancy hat, or special shoes?” – and KAET’s Horizonte, where in response to a question by host José Cárdenas, Ríos discussed the grace with which his parents dealt with his second-grade pink slip for “the egregious sin of daydreaming.” As he described it, Ríos’ mother and father validated his poetic imagination by not punishing him for – and indeed never speaking of – the incident. Ríos believes that what they were saying by this was, “We know it’s in you to understand that what you did was not wrong.”
Ríos is teaching one of his most popular ASU creative writing courses this semester on magical realism in literature (ENG 664). He will continue this and other work at the university in addition to performing the duties of state poet laureate.
The Department of English is an academic unit in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.