Connecticut Poets’ Corner – Hartford Courant

Paradise Lost: The Poetry of Bessy Reyna

Jan 12, 2017

Hear Bessy read her poem “She Thinks of a Photo” and read five new poems.

Bessy Reyna first learned about the beauty of poetry as a fourth grader in Cuba, when her teacher selected her to memorize a poem and recite it to the class.

After moving with her family to Panama, she came to the U.S. in 1968, having received a scholarship from Mt. Holyoke College. She went on to earn master’s and law degrees from UConn and for many years worked at the state Judicial Branch in Hartford.

She is the author of four poetry collections as well as a volume of short stories, and she has been the recipient of numerous awards and grants for her writing, support of LGBT rights, and many other activities.

In 2001 she was named Latina Citizen of the Year by the State of Connecticut Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, and in 2012 she was one of 10 women honored by the CT Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2016 the San Juan Center in Hartford honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to Latino Arts in Connecticut. Recently, Bessy returned to Cuba, an enormously moving experience reflected in the first of her poems below.

– Rennie McQuilkin, CT poet laureate

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