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Alberto Ríos appointed to Academy of American Poets

ASU Regents' Professor Alberto Ríos
January 15, 2014

ASU Regents' Professor Alberto Ríos, the inaugural poet laureate for Arizona, has been appointed to the Academy of American Poets' board of chancellors.

In this capacity, Ríos will advocate for the programmatic work of the academy; act as a consultant to the organization on matters of artistic direction and programming; elect the recipients of various awards, including the Academy Fellowship; and serve as an ambassador of poetry in the world at large.

“This honor speaks to that boy sitting in his second-grade chair reading Dr. Seuss at Coronado Elementary School in Nogales, Ariz.," said Ríos. "I was struggling with written language but was in awe of its power to make laughter – and meaning – come alive. I am humbled by this charge and hope to build on its significance."

Well-known poet translator Khaled Mattawa also was named to the 15-member board. Both will serve a six-year term.

Founded 80 years ago, the academy is a nonprofit organization that supports American poets at all stages of their careers and fosters an appreciation for contemporary poetry. They simultaneously publish a biannual literary journal and sponsor numerous readings and other events.

The post of chancellor is a high honor and appointment to it is indicative of a poet’s national standing. According to the academy’s selection guidelines: “These men and women must be chosen from amongst literary persons of the highest standing. They must themselves be known for their good judgment and eminent integrity of opinion.”

Ríos was named inaugural poet laureate for Arizona last August. He has individual works in more than 300 journals and more than 250 anthologies, and has been honored with numerous awards – including the Walt Whitman Award in Poetry, bestowed by The Academy of American Poets, the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, the Arizona Literary Treasure Award and a Governor's Arts Award. Ríos also has led countless community projects in cities and towns across Arizona.

Ríos received both his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Arizona. As a full-tenured professor in the Department of English at ASU, Ríos was subsequently awarded the highest rank distinction the university system in Arizona can bestow: Regents’ Professor. He is also the Katharine C. Turner Chair in English in ASU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He has been with ASU since 1982.

Read the full release here.