Introductions: Alberto Ríos
June 1, 2021
By Rebecca Hoogs, SAL Interim Executive Director
It is my great pleasure to introduce Alberto Ríos to you. He is the author of fourteen books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir. His most recent collections of poetry include Not Go Away is My Name and A Small Story About the Sky, both from our very own Copper Canyon Press.
Ríos was born and raised in Nogales, Arizona, on the border of Nogales, Mexico, and went to school and became a writer and a teacher in that borderland, and in 2013, he was named Arizona’s first Poet Laureate. In a poem in Not Go Away Is My Name, Ríos writes that “the border is the place between the two pages in a book where the spine is bent too far.”
Most of his writing deftly explores this between space, the doubled space of place, the spine where English and Spanish meet and flourish into some new book. He explores the sometimes dry, sometimes flooded gully between the past and the present. In an interview, Ríos says, “A lot of what community means, a lot of what community is, is memory, is remembering.”
He grew up in English and Spanish both and he noted that “we talk about how we speak, but we don’t talk about what language we listen in.” What a profound rethinking!
So tonight, I invite you to listen up, to listen in all of your languages—the language of the heart and the mind, the language of the land where poetry meets prose without border, where we pass without passport. Please join me in welcoming the great rememberer, Alberto Ríos.