Acclaimed American poet visits campus
Acclaimed American poet Alberto Rios visits campus March 4 – 13. / Photo: Lupita Barron-RiosAcclaimed American poet and author Alberto Ríos comes to the U of C from March 4 – 13 as the 2009 Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Visiting Writer.
Ríos was born and raised in Nogales, Arizona, the son of a British mother and a Mexican father. In his writing, he draws on his experiences growing up with the traditions and languages of two cultures, in a town that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Although Alberto Ríos has been the recipient of many mainstream honors, his writing continues to help people of both Anglo and Hispanic backgrounds navigate the choppy waters of changing cultural demographics in his home state and throughout the Western U.S.,” says Tom Wayman, an associate professor in the Department of English. “Capirotada, his memoir about growing up in Nogales, was voted by the public as the 2009 choice for OneBook AZ, a program which encourages communities across the state of Arizona to read the same book at the same time.”
Ríos, a Regents’ Professor at Arizona State University, is the author of 10 books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir.
His writing has won numerous awards, including the PEN/Beyond Margins Award for The Theater of Night, a collection of poems which follows a husband and wife through their youth, marriage, and old age. The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body, his book of poetry set in a U.S.-Mexico border town, was a finalist for the National Book Award. His memoir, Capirotada, won the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award.
Ríos is the recipient of the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, the Arizona’s Governor’s Arts Award, fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Walt Whitman Award, The Western States Book Award for Fiction, and six Pushcart Prizes in poetry and fiction. In 2007, he received the Arizona Literary Treasure Award.
His writing has been included in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, as well as more than 200 other national and international literary anthologies. His work is regularly taught and translated, and has been adapted to dance and both classical and popular music.
Ríos has also written several poems for public purpose, including, on her request, a poem for the inauguration of Janet Napolitano, Governor of the State of Arizona, and a poem to mark the occasion for the visit of Mexico’s President Vicente Fox.
“The poem for President Fox was delivered before thousands at the welcoming ceremony, and the verse became famous for its assertion that borders are what unite us, not divide us,” says Wayman. “Similarly, when Eastern Washington University’s new president, of Hispanic descent, was inaugurated in 2007, he asked that Ríos be brought from Arizona to Spokane to, again, craft and deliver a poem in honor of the occasion. Truly, besides the wonder and power of Ríos’ command of words, he excels at a recognized function in his society that we’re not used to seeing a contemporary poet fulfill.”
While in residence at the U of C, Ríos will give a free public reading at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, March 9 in MacEwan Ballroom, 3rd Floor MacEwan Student Centre. A book signing and reception will follow the reading. Sign language interpreters will be provided.
He will also be visiting classes, meeting with students and faculty, and conducting free individual manuscript consultations with Calgary writers.
“The Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Writers Program continues to bring writers of international stature to Calgary,” says Daniel Maher, interim dean of the Faculty of Humanities. “It’s wonderful Professor Ríos will be at the U of C for 10 days and have an opportunity to get to know our students and meet with the Calgary community.”
Says Ríos of his Markin-Flanagan residency at the U of C, “I am looking forward to more of the good energy I already feel, even at this distance. Hello, Calgary!”
For more information, contact 403.220.8177 or leej@ucalgary, or visit www.markinflanagan.com.