Alberto Alvaro Ríos was born in Nogales, Arizona in 1952. He received a BA degree from the University of Arizona in 1974 and an MFA in Creative Writing from the same institution in 1979.
He is the author of several collections of poetry, including Dangerous Shirt (Copper Canyon Press, 2009); The Theater of Night (2007); The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body (2002), which was nominated for the National Book Award; Teodora Luna's Two Kisses(1990); The Lime Orchard Woman (1988); Five Indiscretions (1985); and Whispering to Fool the Wind (1982), which won the 1981 Walt Whitman Award, selected by Donald Justice.
Other books by Ríos include Capirotada: A Nogales Memoir (University of New Mexico Press, 1999), The Curtain of Trees: Stories (1999), Pig Cookies and Other Stories (1995), and The Iguana Killer: Twelve Stories of the Heart (1984), which won the Western States Book Award.
Ríos's poetry has been set to music in a cantata by James DeMars called "Toto's Say," and on an EMI release, "Away from Home." He was also featured in the documentary Birthwrite: Growing Up Hispanic. His work has been included in more than ninety major national and international literary anthologies, including the Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry.
"Alberto Ríos is a poet of reverie and magical perception," wrote the judges of the 2002 National Book Awards, "and of the threshold between this world and the world just beyond."
He holds numerous awards, including six Pushcart Prizes in both poetry and fiction, the Arizona Governor's Arts Award and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Since 1994 he has been Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University, where he has taught since 1982. In 2013, Ríos was named the inaugural state poet laureate of Arizona.