Poet Rane Arroyo’s death a ‘great tragedy and loss’Written by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Rane Arroyo, a poet and UT creative writing professor, died May 7 of a cerebral hemorrhage.
“His death is a great tragedy and loss for poetry and Puerto Rican literature in the United States,” said Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, a Latino studies and Spanish professor at the University of Michigan.
Arroyo was a mentor to La Fountain-Stokes, who said Arroyo was very generous with his fellow writers and fellow poets. Arroyo visited La Fountain-Stokes’ classes for presentations.
“He was an incredibly funny and warm person who was gifted as an artist. He had an ability to translate his experiences as a gay man and a Latino from Chicago, and the experiences with his family and with his partner. He was able to translate all of that into poetry that was accessible and that was in the grade of the great American and English poets,” La Fountain-Stokes said.
La Fountain-Stokes said Arroyo used his poetry to share his experiences as a gay and Latino man in the United States and show that Latinos have something to say in American Literature.
“In the U.S,. where gay and Latino people have been looked down upon, his work is very pertinent for our political atmosphere,” he said.
Arroyo began teaching at UT in the fall of 1997. He taught creative writing and literature and served as a board member of The Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
“He has been one of the most respected and loved professors of creative writing in our department. A gifted poet, he was our colleague and we will miss him very much,” said Sara Lundquist, English department chairwoman.
John Dorsey, a local poet, author of “Teaching the Dead to Sing: The Outlaw’s Prayer” and a Toledo Free Press contributor, said, “I can remember first being handed the work of Rane Arroyo, not long after I moved to the Toledo area in the winter of 2003. There was a mutual respect between us that I have felt with very few poets since. I am not alone in my admiration, having crossed paths with many who have held his life and his work in high regard, including the editors of the online magazine Blood Lotus, who counted him as one of the primary inspirations for the publication’s founding.
“I recently spoke to one of his students, who talked to me about the passion with which he approached his work and brought into his classroom every day, a passion that is clear to anyone that has ever read and appreciated his work. I gave that same student a copy of my latest book to give to him; I only hope that he got to read it and see how much of an impact he not only had on students, but writers like myself and all those around him.”
Arroyo was recently named a Distinguished University Professor, UT’s highest honor for a professor, Lundquist said.
“He was a wonderful poet. I think that his stature as outspoken courageous gay Latino poet is quite extraordinary,” said Joel Lipman, a fellow English professor and Lucas County’s first Poet Laureate.
The author of 10 poetry books, seven published plays, a book of short stories and 10 performed plays, Arroyo also won an array of writing awards. His distinctions included the John Ciardi Poetry Prize, the Carl Sandburg Poetry Prize and a Pushcart Prize.
“He certainly was an enormously productive well-published poet,” Lipman said.
No memorial plans had been made by the UT English Department at presstime, but Lundquist said a memorial will take place.