Arroyo was born in Chicago and received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. His poetry has been published widely by small presses. Arroyo won the Carl Sandburg Poetry Prize for his 1997 collection, The Singing Shark, and the 2004 John Ciardi Poetry Prize for his collection The Portable Famine. “Erotic, irreverent, mournful, political, Arroyo’s lyrics and narratives surprise, often by juxtaposing literary erudition and popular culture in the same stanza,” observed Robin Becker, judge for the Ciardi Prize, praising Arroyo as “an incisive, original mind exploring ‘the square roots of restlessness.’” Arroyo’s other awards include a Pushcart Prize and a fellowship from the Ohio State Arts Council.
Best known as a poet, Arroyo began his career as a performance artist. He also wrote a significant body of plays that have been performed widely to critical acclaim, and a book of short stories, How to Name a Hurricane (2005). Arroyo authored 10 poetry books, seven published plays, a book of short stories. He died in 2010.