Khaled Mattawa and Alberto Ríos Named Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets
New York, NY (January 15, 2014) — The Academy of American Poets announced today that noted translator Khaled Mattawa and Arizona poet laureate Alberto Ríos have been elected Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets, an honorary position that has been held by some of the most distinguished poets in the United States, including Marianne Moore, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, Adrienne Rich, Yusef Komunyakaa, and John Ashbery.
As members of the Board of Chancellors, Mattawa and Ríos will consult with the organization on matters of artistic programming, serve as judges for the organization’s largest prizes for poets, and act as ambassadors of poetry in the world at large. Mattawa and Ríos were selected by the 15 members of the Academy’s current Board of Chancellors, and each will serve for a period of six years. They will fill the seats vacated by Victor Hernández Cruz and Ron Padgett, whose terms as Chancellors have concluded.
Khaled Mattawa was born in Benghazi, Libya, in 1964 and immigrated to the United States in his teens. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including his latest, Tocqueville (New Issues, 2010). He has also translated many volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry and coedited two anthologies of Arab American literature. Mattawa is the recipient of the 2010 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Alfred Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, and the PEN American Center Poetry Translation Prize, among others. Mattawa teaches in the graduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Academy Chancellor Marilyn Hacker said, Mattawa “is one of the best, most inventive, lyrical and intellectually challenging American poets of his generation. His work is as daring in its amalgam of poetic techniques as it is dazzling in the breadth of its subject matter.”
Alberto Alvaro Ríos was born in Nogales, Arizona, in 1952. He is the author of several collections of poetry, including his latest, The Dangerous Shirt (Copper Canyon Press, 2009). In 1981, poet Donald Justice selected Ríos to win the Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award, which resulted in the publication of his first book, Whispering to Fool the Wind (Sheep Meadow Press, 1982). His book The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2002) was nominated for the National Book Award. Ríos holds numerous awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, six Pushcart Prizes, and the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award. 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.
About Alberto Ríos, Academy Chancellor Naomi Shihab Nye said, “For decades, Alberto Ríos has graciously, wittily, and lovingly created a rich body of poems and prose evoking the culture of Mexican American family and community life along the borderlands and in the vast deserts and mountainscapes of Arizona and the American West. His dazzling voice weaves the disappearing magic of ancestral memory into the mysteries of changing time—always a glowing champion for the power of the particular and the undersung.”
Founded in 1934, the Academy of American Poets is the nation’s largest membership-based nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation of contemporary poetry and supporting American poets. Each year, the Academy connects millions of people to great poetry through programs such as Poets.org; National Poetry Month in April; American Poet, a biannual literary journal; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events.