Arizona Names First Poet-In-Chief

August 19, 2013

Arizona has selected its first-ever poet laureate. The title goes to English professor and Nogales native Alberto Rios.

basha Alberto Rios has taught at Arizona State University for three decades and was just selected as Arizona's first-ever poet laureate. (Photo courtesy of Arizona State University)

Last year in honor of the state’s Centennial, lawmakers created the poet laureate position.

Rios has taught English at Arizona State University for three decades. He has written 13 books of poetry and short stories. He also writes what he calls poems of public purpose.

“That’s writing for occasions that have no one to speak for them,” Rios explained.

Here is an example. Rios has written public poems displayed around Tempe Town Lake. One said, “Nobody owns water. Drink some and try to keep it.”

Another said, “To visit the river quickly, cut an onion.”

The poet laureate is a two-year unpaid appointment. The position commemorates local artists whose work and service represent Arizona values and western culture.

Arizona is the 43rd state to appoint a poet-in-chief.