The Arizona Poet Laureate is a Governor’s appointee whose purpose is to champion the art of American poetry, inspire an emerging generation of literary artists and educate Arizonans about poets and authors who have influenced our state through creative literary expression.


Alberto Álvaro Ríos

alberto1“This is a profound honor. A small-town border kid from Nogales to Poet Laureate—this is a good story, an Arizona story. As the state’s first Poet Laureate, the work of inventing this job is now at hand, and I’m very much looking forward to the adventure. The Poet Laureate designation is an important way for Arizona and its people to express a public regard for the well-written word. I would like to be part of that statement, a line in that poem.”

– Alberto Álvaro Ríos, August, 2013

Born and raised in Nogales, Arizona, Alberto Álvaro Ríos earned his BA and MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and holds the esteemed position of Regents’ Professor at Arizona State University. His poetry, stories and autobiographical work have been extensively published for nearly 4 decades. Among many other honors, Ríos has received the Walt Whitman Award in Poetry, the Western States Book Award for Fiction, and the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award. In 2014, Ríos was elected to the prestigious position of Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Arizona is home to a wealth of distinguished and diverse literary artists who, through their work and service, represent Arizona’s values, storied history and boundless potential.

The Arizona Poet Laureate is a Governor’s appointee whose purpose is to champion the art of American poetry, inspire an emerging generation of literary artists and educate Arizonans about poets and authors who have influenced our state through creative literary expression.

In 2012, Arizona’s Centennial Year, State Senator Al Melvin sponsored Senate Bill 1348 to establish a Poet Laureate position for the State of Arizona. Senate Bill 1348 received broad bipartisan support in both State Legislative chambers and was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer in May 2012.

Responsibilities and Authority of the Arizona Poet Laureate

The following are the responsibilities and authority of the Arizona Poet Laureate as stated in SB 1348:

The Arizona Poet Laureate shall travel to urban and rural communities, visiting the various regions of the state at least once during his/her term and placing an emphasis on outreach to residents who might not otherwise be exposed to quality poetry.

The Arizona Poet Laureate shall offer a minimum of 4 public readings per year and undertake a major literary project (identified and implemented in consultation with the Arts Commission) during his/her term with the goal of educating residents about poetry and literary arts.