Dr. Alberto Álvaro Ríos – “Books & Co.” host, longtime teacher and internationally known poet, has been announced as the 2018 recipient of the Shelley Award, presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts. The award honors Ríos’ contribution to elevating the understanding and appreciation for poetry and literature in and about Arizona.
The Shelley Award, named after former Arizona Commission on the Arts Executive Director Shelley Cohn, is presented annually to recognize individuals who have promoted public support for arts and culture through their strategic and innovative leadership. Ríos will receive the award at the 37th annual Governor’s Arts Awards dinner and celebration on March 22 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort. The Shelley Award has been presented since 2005.
In addition to hosting “Books & Co.,” Ríos is himself the author of 11 books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories and a memoir. His most recent title, “A Small Story About the Sky,” was honored by inclusion in the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read initiative. His memoir about growing up on the Mexico-Arizona border, “Capirotada” won the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award and was recently chosen as the OneBookArizona selection. In 2013, he was name Arizona’s first Poet Laureate, and he is currently the artistic director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU. Ríos is also a Regents’ Professor at ASU, where he has taught for over 35 years and where he holds the further distinctions of the Katharine C. Turner Endowed Chair in English and University Professor of Letters.
“Alberto Ríos’ contributions to Arizona’s arts and cultural landscape, legacy and diversity are deep and important,” said Catherine “Rusty” Foley, executive director of Arizona Citizens for the Arts, which produces the Governor’s Arts Awards celebration. “His impact is particularly compelling when you see how he has created an understanding and appreciation for poetry throughout the state and how he integrates discussions of literature into the conversation.”
These conversations about the nature and value of literature are what Ríos brings to “Books & Co.,” in which he discusses the creative process and the craft of writing with authors of all types.
Born in 1952 in Nogales, his books of poems include “The Dangerous Shirt,” “The Theater of Night,” winner of the 2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Award, “The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body,” a finalist for the National Book Award, “Teodoro Luna’s Two Kisses,” “The Lime Orchard Woman,” “The Warrington Poems,” “Five Indiscretions,” and “Whispering to Fool the Wind,” winner of the Walt Whitman Award.
His three collections of short stories are, most recently, The Curtain of Trees, along with Pig Cookies and The Iguana Killer.
Recently honored with the University of Arizona Outstanding Alumnus Award, Ríos is the recipient of the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, an Arizona 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, six Pushcart Prizes in both poetry and fiction, and inclusion in “The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry,” as well as over 300 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.
The Governor’s Arts Awards are presented by Arizona Citizens for the Arts in partnership with the Office of the Governor. Since 1981, more than 200 distinguished artists, individuals, arts and cultural organizations, educators and businesses have received Governor’s Arts Awards.
Arizona Citizens for the Arts, a 37-year-old 501 c3 organization, acts as the eyes, ears and voice of the nonprofit arts and culture sector in Arizona at the State Legislature, in local city halls and partnerships with business and community leaders involved in building and supporting quality of life in Arizona.