Alberto Rios

Mexican-American and British poet Alberto Rios grew up on the southwestern borderlands, a place often referred to as a third country where the cultures of the United States and Mexico meet, clash, and intertwine. Rios's poems and stories are a mezcla of English fairy tales and Hispanic cuentos; written in English but flavored by the sensibilities of his first language, Spanish. His work centers on life in the blue-collar barrios of Nogales, which straddles the Mexican border with Arizona.

Rios's writing might be called an urban version of the more rural Southwestern Magical Realism and Linda Hogan. And yet, it is rooted to the desert lore of his Mexican Ancestors and in his mother's tales of snopw drifts towering over her head in Lancanshire. The past Rios sets in his writing is not to unify this reality, but to respect and appreciate it. His work helps readers negotiate the complex identities that are today's Southwest.

"The West is a big place, but not my West. The West for me is where I lived --it is a house. And it is how I lived, and who I lived with. It's some people, and some streets, a border fence with Mexico in the distance, and an Arroyo across the highway, a dry landscape, Coronado Elementary School, the Nogales Apache High School fight song. My West is like that, a place to live. When I was old enough to think about the West, it was gone. It had moved into the realm of capital letters"
-Alberto Rios

Click here to hear Alberto Rios narrating Writing the Southwest.