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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

12. Migrant

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- Rudolfo A. Anaya
- Carlos Bulosan
- Robinson Jeffers
- Alberto Ríos
- Tomas Rivera
- Muriel Rukeyser
- Upton Sinclair
- John Steinbeck
- Henry David Thoreau
- Helena Maria Viramontes
- Suggested
•  Timeline
•  Activities

Authors: Alberto Ríos (b. 1952)

Dolores del Rios as Ramona
[5245] Salvador Brquez, Dolores del Rios as Ramona (1928), courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.

Alberto Ríos Activities
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The son of a Mexican American father and a British mother, Alberto Ríos was born in Nogales, Arizona, on the Mexican border. Much of his work draws on the mixture of his parents' cultures and growing up in the American Southwest. He received his B.A. from the University of Arizona and earned an M.F.A. in creative writing in 1979. Ríos's collections of poetry include Whispering to Fool the Wind (1982), Five Indiscretions (1985), The Dime Orchard Woman: Poems (1988), Teodora Luna's Two Kisses (1992), and The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body (2002). He has also published three collections of stories, The Iguana Killer (1984), Pig Cookies and Other Stories (1995), and The Curtain of Trees (1999). In addition, he has written a memoir, Capirotada (1999), about growing up on the U.S.-Mexican border. Ríos has taught at Arizona State University since the early 1980s.

Ríos's storytelling draws on the oral traditions of his Latino heritage while celebrating its diversity and sense of community. His speakers and characters reveal the tensions of living in a racially charged area of the Southwest. Magical realism -- a mixture of fantasy and realism -- characterizes much of Ríos's work. Ríos thinks of teaching and writing as complementary activities. In one interview he explains, "When I sit down to write something, I'm not neglecting my teaching one bit. And when I speak aloud in front of a class, I'm not neglecting my writing one bit. They are two arms of the same body. They serve each other." Frequently taught and translated, Ríos's work has been adapted both for dance and as popular music.

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