Books & Co. host named Arizona’s first Poet Laureate

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Alberto Ríos, award-winning poet, professor and TV host, receives unprecedented honor from State of Arizona

PHOENIX — (August 23, 2013) In partnership with the Office of the Governor, the Arizona Commission of the Arts named Alberto Ríos, host of award-winning Eight, Arizona PBS program Books & Co.,as the first Arizona Poet Laureate. The appointment establishes Arizona as the 43rd state with a Poet or Writer Laureate position. As Poet Laureate, Ríos will serve two years representing Arizona’s values in communities through literary education, including public readings across the state and the completion of a major literacy project.  The Arizona native and author of ten books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short-stories and a memoir will travel statewide meeting with residents to share his knowledge of literature and literacy training.

During his four-decade career, Ríos has received numerous honors, including a 2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Award, a Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, the 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. In addition, the distinguished author won the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award and the 2009 OneBookAZ adult selection for his memoir about growing up on the Mexico-Arizona border, titled Capirotada.

Ríos has provided Arizonans a unique window on the joys of literature and poetry as host of Books & Co. since 2009, where he welcomes a new guest from a diverse series of authors each week to Eight’s studios for a half-hour of wide-ranging conversations.

“As host of Books & Co., being the state’s poet laureate now will underscore the importance of these wonderful discussions with authors, supporting the sensibility that points to language at its best, whether in books or in conversation or in classrooms.  A space for words, whether in a poem or on a program or at the kitchen table, makes our lives the wonderful stories that they are,” says Ríos.

“He’s the perfect host for this show,” says series producer Suzanne Guery. “As an author himself, Alberto relates to his guests in a way that goes far beyond the normal host and interviewee relationship. He engages authors in conversation about their work and the craft of writing in a way that equally impresses first-timers and seasoned professionals. His preparations include reading and contemplating every detail of the book being discussed each week. On set, he rarely refers to notes as he seamlessly queries writers on the nuanced choice of a specific turn of phrase or subtle plot detail. He’s amazing!”  Ríos has taught students of Arizona State University for more than 30 years, achieving the highest rank as a Regents' Professor and the further distinction of the Katharine C. Turner Endowed Chair in English.

Viewers can enjoy episodes of Books & Co. each week,featuring Ríos and his special guests. Now in its 20th year, a new season of the award-winning program is currently in pre-production and is scheduled to premiere in April 2014 with 13 new episodes. Books & Co. is an Eight original production made possible by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University.

Media Contact:  Colleen O’Donnell Pierce
[email protected]
(602) 496-0579
(602) 478-3867 (cell)

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