Rane Ramón Arroyo was born in Chicago, Illinois, to Puerto Rican immigrant parents. He began his career as a performance artist in the Chicago art galleries of the 1980s and eventually expanded into poetry, for which he has become best known.
Arroyo earned his Ph.D. in English and Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh where he wrote his dissertation on issues surrounding the "Chicago Renaissance" that parallel the building of a contemporary Latino literary canon. He served as the co-Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) and as the co-Chair for the 2009 Chicago Conference.
His last public poetry reading was at SUNY/Brockport on March 31, 2010. His last three words to the public at that reading were: "Live. Then Write." Although it does not appear on the electronic version of the DVD Brockport made, it's quite audible on the YouTube clip immediately following a sampling of a Lady Gaga song which ended his poetry reading. Those three words were words he not only lived by but demanded of his creative writing students.
Arroyo died in the early morning of May 7, 2010 due to a cerebral hemorrhage.
Arroyo was included in the Heath Anthology of American Literature published in 2006; this book is commonly taught in English college classes in the U.S. He won the 2004-05 John Ciardi Poetry Prize for The Portable Famine; the 1997 Carl Sandburg Poetry Prize for his book The Singing Shark; and a 1997 Pushcart Prize for the poem "Breathing Lessons" as published in Ploughshares. Other awards include: Stonewall Books Chapbook Prize; The Sonora Review Chapbook Prize, the Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Prize, and a 2007 Ohio Arts Council Excellence Award in Poetry.
Betsy A. Sandlin published an article on him ("Poetry Always Demands All My Ghosts: The Haunted and Haunting Poetry of Rane Arroyo") in a landmark issue of CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies on Puerto Rican queer studies. Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes has also written about his work.
Books of Poetry
Columbus's Orphan. Arcadia, Fl.: JVC books, 1993. ISBN 1878116177
The Singing Shark. Tempe, AZ: Bilingual Press, 1996. ISBN 0927534614
Pale Ramón. Cambridge, Mass.: Zoland Books, 1998. ISBN 0944072941
Home Movies of Narcissus. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2002. ISBN 0816521956
The Portable Famine. Kansas City, Mo.: BkMk Press, 2005. ISBN 1886157537
Don Quixote goes to the moon, Toronto, 2006, OCLC 71388016
The Roswell Poems. La Porte, Ind.: WordFarm, 2008. ISBN 9781602260016
Same-Sex Séances. New Sins Press, 2008. ISBN 0979695619
The Buried Sea: New & Selected Poems. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2008. ISBN 9780816527168
The Sky's Weight. Turning Point Press, 2009. ISBN 1934999733
Book of Short Stories
How To Name A Hurricane. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2005. ISBN 0816524602
Dancing At Funerals: Selected Plays. Tokio and Toronto: ahadada books, 2010. ISBN 9780981274447
The Buried Sea: New and Selected Poems (Camino del Sol) by Rane Arroyo with foreword by Luis Alberto Urrea
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: University of Arizona Press (September 15, 2008)
Amazon: The Buried Sea: New and Selected Poems (Camino del Sol)
A poem is a living library, a hospitable planet in black space, a bell waiting to wear the music of motion across stilled lands. Writers are the carriers of the voices around us. We are writers and readers in dark times when words are correctly understood as powerful weapons. —From the Introduction Reading Rane Arroyo’s poems is a little like watching a movie playing at fastforward speed on the TV in your darkened bedroom. The colors pop and snap, the images leap and recede, the colors seem brighter than life—and you can’t stop watching even long enough to blink. It’s an intimate experience. Even at hyperspeed you can make out the images of friends, family, and lovers (especially lovers) burning rubber across the unblinking screen. And even without a sound track, you can hear the music—a symphony of jazz and samba, salsa and street sounds. In The Buried Sea, Arroyo has selected poems from his first eleven books—five full-length collections of poems and six chapbooks—and has added nineteen new poems. When asked to describe himself, Arroyo writes that
the answer is easy: I’m a Puerto Rican, gay, Midwestern, educated, former working class, liberal, atheistic, humanist, American, male, ex-Mormon, ex-Catholic, pseudo-Buddhist, teacher, reader, global, and popular culture—informed poet.Readers will find traces of all of these selves in this collection. And Arroyo does make it “easy” to follow the clues. His poems—vivacious, sexy, shiny, sly, pointed, ambitious—are easy to approach and easy to love. But they come with strings attached—like all affairs of the heart—and therein lies so much of their pleasure.
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