KIDS: Visiting Artist - Bessy Reyna

{In the Spotlight Page Header} In the Spotlight
Visiting Artist - Poet Bessy Reyna

{Photo of Bessy Reyna} Artist's Statement
From the moment I learned how to read, books became my constant companions. Many nights I would hide a flashlight under the blankets so I could keep reading (when I was supposed to be sleeping!) I started writing when I was in High School and found that poetry was like a friend I could tell all my secrets to. That experience taught me that as long as you love reading you will NEVER be alone, and, it is so easy to write all you need is keep a scrap of paper and a pencil with you at all times!

Bio-Bibliographical Notes
Bessy Reyna was born in Cuba and raised in Panama. She came to the US to attend college. Reyna has written two books of poetry She Remembers, (Andrew Mountain Press, Hartford, CT) and Terrarium, (Instruccion programada, Mexico), and Ab Ovo, (INAC, Panama) short stories in Spanish. She worked as Assistant Reporter of Judicial Decisions at the Judicial Department. She is a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College and the University of Connecticut.

Reyna was selected as a "Master Teaching Artist" by the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and has won poetry and fiction awards. Reyna is very involved in working with the Hispanic community in Connecticut, particularly with school children. She participates in the program PARTNERS-IN-THE-SCHOOLS, sponsored by Bushnell Auditorium. Since January, 1996, she has been the volunteer editor of El Extra Cultural, the arts page of El Extra News, a Hartford-based bilingual newspaper. In September, 1999, a show of paintings and other visual arts, based on her poetry, entitled "I See What You're Saying" was curated by Susan Scott and exhibited at "Small Walls," a gallery in Hartford. The show included the work of several award-winning Connecticut visual artists.

Reyna's article, "My Two-Thousand Lunches with Hartford" appeared in Northeast Magazine, of The Hartford Courant on April 9, 2000.  She has published several other articles in that magazine.  Her poems and stories have been included in several anthologies and literary magazines in the U.S. and Latin America, including El Coro: A Chorus of Latino and Latina Poetry, M. Espada, Editor (UMass Press, 1997) and In Other Words: Latina writers in the US, Roberta Fernandez, Editor (Arte Publico Press, 1994.)

Reyna has participated in numerous poetry readings, including the Second Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, in Farmington, CT, which is one of the largest poetry festivals in the country. In the past year she was presented poetry workshops at Conferences, Schools, Libraries and the Wadsworth Atheneum.

Aside from her work as editor of El Extra Cultural, Reyna's many other volunteer community activities include Membership in the Steering Committee of the Catalyst Fund of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving; Advisory Board membership in the Connecticut Center for the Book and Mentor for the Young Writers' Institute and the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival's high school students' program. In 1999, she was the judge for the Letters for Literature a competition among Connecticut's High School students.

Bolton's Wild Side
( A story-poem for Susan)

It's nighttime and she runs in from the back yard. Her hands cupped, fingers intertwined to create a nest holding a small wounded bird whose flesh oozes out

by the smallest of wings.The bird's eyes are shut closed, his body still but the wound moves up and down as if the life within him is trying to decide which way to go.

She places the bird in a shoe box covering him gently with a small towel to keep him warm. I watch her tender gestures as she designs a temporary shelter

I listen to the frantic, useless phone calls to people she thinks might know what to do, but don't. Finally there is hope, a vet responds: "bring him in ... in the morning"

A long night ahead for the injured bird.

"Make sure to keep the cats away," she yells at me on her way to the back yard to resume the chores she had just started before she rescued the bird from a cat's hold. I find a wire cage, place it on the dining room table and insert the shoe box

A few moments later, she returns. Her hands cupped, her fingers becoming a nest for yet another bird; this one livelier and much bigger. He too ends up in a shoe box inside the cat's wire cage a makeshift bird motel to spend the night.

By dawn, his chirping awakes us. He is loud, demanding, relentless in his cry, like someone unjustly accused and imprisoned against his will.

We rush to the cage, to find that the smaller bird did not survive the night but elder brother did. He stands defiantly on the side of the shoe box as if saying "Look at me!" She reaches inside the cage, cups her hands and picks him up gently, taking him out to the yard, to the fence by the woods. There she kneels down,

placing him on the ground next to her, and, in an instant he chirps and hops away, hopping and chirping and suddenly, other birds come out from the woods to join him, surround him like a welcoming committee.

She watches the birds move farther and farther away until they disappear deep into the woods.

Now, when she goes back to that place in the woods, she tries to recognize him, among the many Robins who visit the back yard. I know she smiles thinking of him and remembering that night when she was faster than the cat.

POEMS: These poems are from the book She Remembers, Andrew Mountain Press, Hartford, CT. They are reprinted with permission of the author and publisher.

The tree has dropped its leaves
in the shape of a perfect circle
bursting with beauty
like an autumn mandala
about to be destroyed by the wind
or the groundskeeper

If I had learned
to love the snow
instead of the sea
would I love the snow now?
If you had learned
to love the sea
instead of the snow
would you love the sea now?
Can you find the snow
hiding in the sea?
the sea hiding in the snow?

He came bouncing down the street
heavy body, long hair, jacket and tie
there was an oddness about him
then, as he approached
I heard the sound of maracas
coming from his pockets
--was it candy?--
I pictured hundreds of multi-colored sweets
crashing against each other
He, oblivious to the crackling rhythm
Along Capitol Avenue
our paths crossed
lunch break nearly over
How can I explain
being late for work
because I was following a man
who sounded like maracas?

You may correspond with Bessy Reyna at the following address:

Bessy Reyna
P.O. BOX 9341, Bolton, CT 06043-7217
or at

 This material is reproduced with the permission of the author/creator and is covered by United States copyright laws. Any copies of this material should contain the author/creator's name and/or original source.


Content Last Modified on 2/9/2007 8:25:59 AM