Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Rane Arroyo  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: November 15, 1954 in Chicago, Illinois

Died: May 7, 2010 in Toledo, Ohio

-- Rane Arroyo on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Arroyo was born in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Rane Arroyo was a Puerto Rican performance artist, poet, author, playwright and scholar. 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. He earned his Ph.D. in English/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 wrote numerous books and received many literary awards. His work dealt extensively with issues of immigration, Latino culture, and homosexuality. Arroyo was openly gay and frequently wrote self-reflexive, autobiographical texts. A professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Toledo in Ohio, Arroyo was also the co-Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Columbus's Orphan
ISBN: 1878116177

JVC Books, Joyce Carbone, Arcadia, FL. 0

The Singing Shark
ISBN: 0927534614

Bilingual Pr (Bilrp). 1996

poetry, Puerto Rican-American

Pale Ramon
ISBN: 0944072941

Zoland Books. 1998

Home Movies of Narcissus (Camino del Sol)
ISBN: 0816521956

University of Arizona Press. 2002

A first-generation Latino born in Chicago, Rane Arroyo is a leading poeta puertorriqueño and playwright whose readership transcends his ethnicity. In Home Movies of Narcissus, his fourth collection of poetry, he writes more deliberately and with greater assurance of his search for identity—both cultural/racial and gender/sexual—and his discovery of it within family and community.

Using sophisticated language to inspect life from barrio childhood to cosmopolitan manhood, Arroyo explores themes of gay strength and alienation, linked to his experiences as both a Puerto Rican and an intellectual. Through a variety of approaches, he examines a major recurrent Latino paradox: the need to write about Latino issues while being criticized for being too self-centered.

Sometimes reserved, sometimes passionate, Arroyo writes with humor and a remarkable quickness of association, moving with a grace that makes seamless use of speech ranging from the formal to the vernacular. Taking in love and sexuality, world literature and history, and the exile's heritage of a shifting geography of identity, he invokes remarkable imagery with language that is economical, fresh, and mischievous. Some of Arroyo's poems take an autobiographical approach and show how poets have both the luxury and necessity of speaking for those in their lives.

Others create personas that take in the American experience from a variety of viewpoints—including gays, who are often marginalized by the larger Latino community. "The Ponce de León Poems" pit the poet against a ghost who seeks to direct his writing, while a final section, "The Black Moon Poems," deals with the many sleepless nights that Arroyo has spent struggling with questions over the worth of his art and whether he has betrayed those he loves by writing-or not writing-about them. "In his home movies," he writes, "Narcissus is both the seen and the seer." As Arroyo's insightful words demonstrate, the writer must come to value his own image but not fall in love with it, for it will change, age, and, if he is fortunate, finally grow wise. As readers will discover in Home Movies of Narcissus, Rane Arroyo has seen past the mirror and charted a new territory of self-discovery.

How to Name a Hurricane (Camino del Sol)
ISBN: 0816524602

University of Arizona Press. 2005

There’s no denying it, media culture has ushered in a new era of visibility for gays in America. Yet somehow the gay Latino doesn’t fit into this sound-bite identity and usually isn’t included in national media images. Rane Arroyo offers a corrective. Known primarily as a poet and playwright representing the gay Latino community, Arroyo has also been publishing prose throughout his career and now gathers into this book a storm of writing that has been gaining strength, drop by drop, for more than ten years.

How to Name a Hurricane collects short stories and other fictions depicting Latino drag queens and leather men, religious sinners and happy atheists, working class heroes and cyberspace vaqueros—a parade of characters that invites readers to consider whether one is more authentic a gay Latino than another. Whereas actual hurricanes are given names, the gays given voice in this collection must name themselves—and these narratives in turn reveal something of the "I" of Hurricane Rane. Whether portraying a family gathering as Brideshead Revisited with a mambo soundtrack, recounting the relationship of transvestite Louie/Lois and her bisexual Superman, or bemoaning "feeling as unsexy as an old bean burrito in a 7-11 microwave," Arroyo tracks the heartbeat of his characters through a shimmering palette of styles. Here are monologues, a story in verse, and other experimental forms appropriate to experimental lives—all affirming the basic human rights to dignity, equality, love, and even silliness.

When the AIDS epidemic first hit, many Latino families destroyed any remembrances of their gay and bisexual sons that might betray their pasts to la familia or el pueblo. Arroyo’s writings return the ghosts of those sons to the families, bars, dance clubs, and neighborhoods where they belong. By penetrating to the I’s of narrative hurricanes, these stories honor the survivors of our ongoing cultural storms.

The Portable Famine
ISBN: 1886157537

BkMk Press. 2005

Poetry. Gay and Lesbian studies. "Erotic, irreverent, mournful, political, Arroyo's lyrics and narratives surprise, often by juxtaposing literary erudition and popular culture within the same stanza. The result is a hybrid poetics all his own. Read his arguments, direct addresses, dream poems, elegies, family narratives, and love poems to experience an incisive, original mind exploring `the square roots of restlessness.'"--Robin Becker.

The Buried Sea: New and Selected Poems (Camino del Sol)
ISBN: 0816527164

University of Arizona Press. 2008

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.

The Roswell Poems
ISBN: 160226001X

WordFarm. 2008

In July 1947, cowboy-rancher Mac Brazel found crash debris from an apparent UFO in the New Mexico desert. His chance discovery transformed the quiet town of Roswell into ground zero for theories of government conspiracy, space alien sightings and science versus religion debates. When another crash site was found nearby and reported to have yielded nonhuman remains, the frenzy intensified.

Now Rane Arroyo (author of How to Name a Hurricane and The Portable Famine) mines the famous Roswell event to describe human experience in the twenty-first century. His poetic sequence includes couplets, lyrical dramatic monologues, chatroom messages, sonnets and imaginary film trailers all born of a common mythic moment but wandering far and away from that genesis. The stories he tells of Roswell become a new kind of mystery play in which everyone may particpate as believers, critics or spectacle devotees. Something important happened in this obscure town something that is still with us today. But what?

"The Roswell Poems is Americana at its most beautiful and bizarre," says Barbara Hamby, author of Delirium and Babel.

"To read this book is to be abducted in heart-shaking and beautiful ways," says Susan Deer Cloud, recipient of the 2007 NEA Literature Fellowship and author of The Last Ceremony.

Same-Sex Seances
ISBN: 0979695619

New Sins Press. 2008

In prize-winning poet Rane Arroyo's gay America, readers meet cowboys and vaqueros, untamed drag queens, Internet surfers, AIDS survivors, underwear models who are salsa gods, men risking their lives by loving in dark cornfields, gay music video stars, street corner sphinxes and other documentarists. This is Sodom as a mindset and a reguge. Through Latino personae and Arroyo's life experiences, these poems offer us profound adventures.

The Sky's Weight
ISBN: 1934999733

WordTech Communications. 2009

Arroyo, Rane