Academy of American Poets awards ASU professor Alberto Ríos position of Chancellor

Speaking of Arizona-native Alberto Ríos, Academy Chancellor Naomi Shihab Nye said:

“His dazzling voice weaves the disappearing magic of ancestral memory into the mysteries of changing time — always a glowing champion for the power of the particular and the under sung.”

The Academy of American Poets elected Arizona’s first poet laureate Ríos as Chancellor on Jan. 15.

As Chancellor, Ríos will consult artistry programs for the Academy, participate in judging for Academy-hosted competitions, and grow as a global ambassador of poetry.Hand-selected by the current 15-member Academy Board, Ríos and Khaled Mattawa will serve a Chancellor’s term of six years.

Within the “Dictionary of Literary Biography,” José Saldívar said that Ríos’s poetry has a magical aspect to it.

Ríos published over 10 books of poetry, was included in over 175 national and international anthologies and won over 12 awards for his writing, which include theWestern Literature Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 2002, an Arizona Governor’s Art Award, the Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, the Walt Whitman Award and many more.

Ríos received his BA in 1974 and a MFA in creative writing in 1979 from the University of Arizona. His professorship at ASU began in 1982, where he was awarded the title of Regents Professor in 1994.

A documentary notably called, “Birthwrite: Growing up Hispanic” featured Ríos in 1989.

Ríos’s contemporaries said that he brings a distinctive voice to the world of poetry, because it toes the line between reality and imagination and brings the power of childhood innocence into a poem.

In “The Iguana Killer: Twelve Stories of the Heart,”Ríos writes about growing up and losing our innocence.

“Adults havethe benefit of experience and know the trick will work as long as the technique is correct.When we ‘grow up,’ we gain this experience and knowledge, but we lose our innocence andsense of wonder. In other words, the price we pay for growing up is a permanent sense ofloss.”


You can reach the reporter at Stephanie.Tate@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @StephanieITA