Best known as a poet and playwright, Arroyo began his career as a performance artist. Arroyo authored ten poetry books, including White as Silver (2010), The Sky's Weight (2009), The Buried Sea: New and Selected Poems (2008), Same-Sex Séances (2008), and The Roswell Poems (2008). He also wrote a significant body of plays that have been performed widely to critical acclaim, which have been collected in Dancing at Funerals (2010). He also published a book of short stories, How to Name a Hurricane (2005). As a gay, Puerto Rican, Midwestern writer, Arroyo addressed his plurality directly in his work. “Who knows more about place than the displaced?,” Arroyo said.
Arroyo was born in Chicago to immigrant parents and earned his PhD in English and Cultural Studies from the University of Pittsburgh. He 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 included a Pushcart Prize and a fellowship from the Ohio State Arts Council.
Arroyo he taught creative writing at the University of Toledo and served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. He died in 2010.