Alberto RĂ­os


Alberto Alvaro Ríos was born on September 18, 1952, in Nogales, Arizona. He received a BA degree in 1974 and an MFA in creative writing in 1979, both from the University of Arizona. Ríos has authored numerous books of poetry and prose, including Not Go Away is My Name (Copper Canyon Press, 2020); The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body (Copper Canyon Press, 2002), which was nominated for the National Book Award; Whispering to Fool the Wind (Sheep Meadow Press, 1982), which won the 1981 Walt Whitman Award selected by Donald Justice; and the novel The Iguana Killer: Twelve Stories of the Heart (Blue Moon and Confluence Press, 1984), which won the Western States Book Award. 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 in Tempe, where he has taught since 1982. In 2013, Ríos was named the inaugural state poet laureate of Arizona. He served as Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2014 to 2020. In 2017, he was appointed as the new director of the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University.  Source

A House Called Tomorrow

You are not fifteen, or twelve, or seventeen—

You are a hundred wild centuries


And fifteen, bringing with you

In every breath and in every step


Everyone who has come before you,

All the yous that you have been,


The mothers of your mother,

The fathers of your father.


If someone in your family tree was trouble,

A hundred were not:


The bad do not win—not finally,

No matter how loud they are.


We simply would not be here

If that were so.


You are made, fundamentally, from the good.

With this knowledge, you never march alone.


You are the breaking news of the century.

You are the good who has come forward


Through it all, even if so many days

Feel otherwise. But think:


When you as a child learned to speak,

It’s not that you didn’t know words—


It’s that, from the centuries, you knew so many,

And it’s hard to choose the words that will be your own.


From those centuries we human beings bring with us

The simple solutions and songs,


The river bridges and star charts and song harmonies

All in service to a simple idea:


That we can make a house called tomorrow.

What we bring, finally, into the new day, every day,


Is ourselves. And that’s all we need

To start. That’s everything we require to keep going. 


Look back only for as long as you must,

Then go forward into the history you will make.


Be good, then better. Write books. Cure disease.

Make us proud. Make yourself proud.


And those who came before you? When you hear thunder,

Hear it as their applause.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Childhood & Coming of Age

Education & Learning

Faith & Hope


Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession


an exclamatory passage in a speech or poem addressed to a person (typically one who is dead or absent) or thing (typically one that is personified)


two lines of verse, usually in the same meter and joined by rhyme, that form a unit

Extended Metaphor

a metaphor that extends through several lines or even an entire poem


an instruction or a command


a recurrence of the same word or phrase two or more times