Stockton Educator, Artist and Author Richard Rios Visits University of the Pacific
Professor Scott Evans hosted his Friday morning Pacific Seminar in normal fashion; situated in the dining hall of the UC DeRose Center around the shuffle, bustle, and conversations of students grabbing a bite before first classes. His own students have the luxury to dine while reading from scholarly works and having dialogue in a different setting from the classroom. Professor Scott Evans teaches PACS 01 “What is a Good Society?” and today’s topic included the review of Songs of the Barrio: Coming of Age in Modesto, CA. Stories and Poems by Richard Rios. The collection of stories found in Songs of the Barrio covered a range of personal experiences shared by Rios while growing up in Modesto through the 1940’s, 1950’s, and 1960’s. As a youngest child to a large Mexican family, Rios faced many unique experiences and shares them in a blunt and humorous way. Today’s review was made even more personal with the invitation of Richard Rios to read from his collections and share his childhood experiences. As with his writing style, Rios talked in the humorous, story-telling style which makes his book seem truly a reflection of himself.
Evans says he had the opportunity to meet Richard Rios while holding meetings of the San Joaquin Chapter of the California Writers’ Club to which Evans is the President. The group invites guest authors to speak and is open to any writers. Meetings are held on the second Saturday of each month at 12:30pm in Community Room at the University’s library.
Rios read excerpts including The Term Paper, a story of his composing and writing a research paper “Mexico’s Three Great Ones” and his start to his lifelong passion of Mexican art and culture. Rios would draw inspiration from the essay to later teach at Delta College on his and all Chicanx culture.
Rios advises students to write with your own flair and style, finding what makes writing enjoyable for you. He says that while he had no aspirations early on to attend college, he later found funding and scholarships to attend and made it as the first of his family to complete a university education. Rios loves laughter and enjoys being able to make fun of himself and his stories. He says, “As an author, the ultimate goal is to hear the thoughts on my book, the stories; which was their favorite. I wanted it to be an accessible book, so small chapters of 1-3 pages were small books in themselves.”
Rios jokes, “The next step is a Hollywood movie. I would like actor Benicio Del Toro to play my character.”
Pacific Student Eileen Rad, ’19, Biochemistry, shares, “It was a great experience to listen to Richard Rios read his stories out loud and tell us what emotions he felt while writing them. I have never met an author in person, so it was a great encounter.” Rad says that the meeting has inspired her to make her audience feel more emotions like humor in her own writing style.
Rios was born of Mexican immigrants, studying art and English. Rios began teaching in 1972 at Delta College where he taught Chicanx culture and English for 33 years. He studied art at the College of Arts in Oakland, earning a Master’s Degree in 1962. In 1985, he received a Master’s Degree in English at California State University, Turlock. Rios is recognized as both a Stockton Mexican-American Hall of Fame inductee and Stockton Top Artist Award recipient.
Songs of the Barrio : Coming of Age in Modesto, CA. Stories and Poems by Richard Rios is available on paperback from Amazon for 9.99.
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