Poet Alberto Álvaro Ríos is no stranger to the Old Pueblo — he has had poetry readings here, many friends, and is a graduate of the University of Arizona.

But this weekend, he returns to his old haunting grounds as Arizona’s first poet laureate.

It’s a big whoop-di-doo for anyone who cares about words, good stories, and loves to hear poetry that is musical and magical. That’s what you’ll find with Ríos.

He has taught at Arizona State University for more than 30 years (we’ll forgive him for that) and has captured awards there for his teaching, and across the country for his writings. He has a slew of poetry books published, three collections of short stories and a memoir, “Capirotada,” which was tapped as the One Book Arizona choice in 2009.

Ríos’ visit to the Old Pueblo will include a visit with eighth-graders at the Paolo Friere Freedom School, and Friday evening, Ríos will read from his works at the UA Poetry Center. The reading is a sort of celebration of his poet laureate title, so reps from the Governor’s Office will be there. That’s OK. We’ll sit through most anything to hear him read.

The free reading at the Poetry Center is slated for 6:30 p.m. Friday. The center is at 1508 E. Helen St., 626-3765.