Bessy Reyna is a frequent guest speaker on a variety of topics ranging from: writing – from the perspective of a poet/opinion columnist to the immigrant experience in the United States. She is a Master Teaching Artist for the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism and is available as a lecturer, instructor and guest artist for colleges, libraries, museums and associations.
“Your session [When Poetry Happens] got tremendous remarks in the evaluations. You are called ‘helpful’, ‘brilliant,’ ‘wise’ and so much more. There can be some tough judges in a gang of newspaper people but you won over them all!”
—Korky Vann and Dennis Horgan, Directors, National Writers Workshop
Poetry As Memoir
Each of us has a wonderful story to tell, yet for most these stories remain untold. In this workshop we will explore our own stories and begin writing pieces focused on specific moments that are significant to us. We will look at examples from other writers and discuss how memoir can be integrated into projects of different genres, including poetry and fiction. We will learn new techniques for mining our memories and develop a new appreciation for the richness of our own lives. Previous participants have started books about their families to pass on to their children and grandchildren; others have gone on to apply workshop exercises to new writing projects.
A Moment In Time: A Photograph in Words
“The great power of Poetry is the preservative …. to take a moment in time and attempt to hold it” according to poet Mark Doty. In her anthology “What Have You Lost?” poet Naomi Shihab Nye challenges readers to confront “Moments for which there are no words.” In this workshop we will read poems in which poets have framed and encapsulated just such moments. These poems will be like guides lighting the way for us to find expression for our own very special moments in time, moments which, until now, we have had no words to describe.
When Poetry Happens… and what to do about it ― A Poetry Workshop for Non-Poets
This workshop introduces poems which are unique, engaging, humorous and non-threatening. The purpose of the workshop is to encourage participants to discover poetry which speaks to their daily lives and to discuss issues we all have in common. The selected poems which will be distributed to and read by the participants, demonstrate how even the seemingly unimportant daily occurrences (like shaving, driving a car, doing laundry, or observing the kitchen table) have been transformed into poems by writers of diverse backgrounds. The readings flow into a deceptively simple writing exercise in which participants feel free to express themselves in a poem or narrative.
“Like Panama, the country of her childhood, Bessy Reyna’s poems provide a channel, a way to bridge east and west by reconciling the warring needs of the body, the mind and the heart. Whether Reyna is dancing with a stalk of sugar cane in Hartford, Connecticut, or in her birthplace of Cuba, poem after poem is as lively as a salsa. Like chewing sugar cane, her poems ultimately reward with their hard-won sweetness, with the taste that leaves us wanting more.” —Vivian Shipley