Thelma T. Reyna’s books have collectively won 14 national book awards. She has written 6 books: a short story collection, 2 poetry chapbooks, and 3 full-length poetry collections, including Dearest Papa: A Memoir in Poems. As Poet Laureate in Altadena, CA in 2014-2016, she edited the Altadena Poetry Review Anthology in 2015 and 2016.

Dr. Reyna’s fiction, poetry, and nonfiction have appeared in literary journals, anthologies, textbooks, blogs, and regional media for over 25 years.  She was selected as a “Top 10 San Gabriel Valley Poet, 2016” by Spectrum Publications and was a Pushcart Prize Nominee in Poetry in 2017.  She also won the “2011 Women in Business Award, Most Inspirational” for her work as an author, presented by California State Assembly and State Senate legislators for the Pasadena (CA) district.

Dr. Reyna has curated and coordinated numerous poetry readings of fellow Southern California poets, organized literary panel presentations for special events, and is a professional editor. She received her Ph.D. at UCLA.



Dearest Papa: A Memoir in Poems

Former Poet Laureate Thelma T. Reyna weaves her nationally-recognized skills as poet and as storyteller to craft a stirring, heartfelt memoir in poems that captures the essence of her husband’s brave, love-filled life—and the despair she navigated and surmounted when her spouse of 50 years died suddenly in minor surgery.




A book of love and grief showing how memory is the sharp needle that sews the fabric of our lives together again. As Thelma Reyna writes so beautifully, “This is how we sink, to rise, how brokenness is patched together again.”


--Cassie Premo Steele, Ph.D.

Author of  Tongues in Trees



Thelma T. Reyna has pinned down "lovely" with these beautifully crafted memoir poems…. They are intimate, personal poems, and when you finish, you'll want to kiss someone you love.


--Mary Langer Thompson, Ph.D.

Senior Poet Laureate of  California, 2012



Dearest Papa is a solid, humble testament of how each millisecond of life expands into a bigger story that represents all of us….a deep, detailed poetic account of love and coupling, as delicate as tender gets….as haunting and beautifully bold as naked could ever be.


--Beverly M. Collins,

Author of  Mud in Magic

Naji Naaman Literary Prize



         I’ve always been passionate about writing and the influence that our shared ideas have upon our culture, our civilization, on people and the choices we all make. Plus: literature, especially poetry,  brings immense beauty and wisdom into our lives as well.

          But the love of books and writing was not a given in my childhood. My parents were school dropouts; my mother's parents never attended school, and my grandfather was illiterate. Poverty affected them as well as my large family (7 brothers, 1 sister) as we were growing up. My love of school and devoted teachers in my life helped me to overcome a disadvantaged background, growing up as an American Latina in a small, poor Texas town. I learned that the only limits your life will have are those you allow.


        Being a published author is one of my life's great joys, not only in seeing "the fruits of my labor" and sharing them with friends, family, colleagues, and our larger community, but also getting to know like-minded souls: authors whose creativity and talent enrich my life and that of so many other fellow human beings.

        I've been fortunate to share my 8 books with others: a short story collection, 2 poetry chapbooks, 3 full length-poetry collections, and 2 anthologies I was honored to edit as a Poet Laureate in Altadena, CA during 2014-2016. My books have won a combined total of 14 national book awards.

I am also a Pushcart Prize in Poetry nominee for 2017 and am a professional editor helping others. I received a Ph.D. from UCLA and served for almost 40 years total in education, including as an adjunct professor at two prominent Southern California universities.



National book awards won by Reyna’s books, most recent to earliest awards:

  • Winner, Gold Medal: International Latino Book Awards/Political Issues

  • Winner, Silver Medal: International Latino Book Awards/Poetry in English, Single Author

  • Winner, NYC Big Book Awards/ Political Issues

  • Finalist, Indie Excellence Book Awards

  • Finalist, BEA, Book Excellence Awards

  • Finalist, Beverly Hills Book Awards/ Political Issues, Poetry

  • Finalist, USA Best Books Award/Poetry

  • US Review of Books, RECOMMENDED Status/Poetry (won 3 times)

  • Winner, BEA, Book Excellence Award/Anthology

  • Winner, Beverly Hills Book Award/Poetry

  • Finalist, The National Best Books Award/Short Fiction

  • Winner, Eric Hoffer Award/ Short Fiction

  • Honorable Mention, Montaigne Medal/ Short Fiction

  • Finalist, Indie Excellence Book Awards/ Literary Fiction


"We write for the same reason we walk, talk, climb mountains...because we can. We have some impulse within us that makes us want to explain ourselves to other human beings."

--Maya Angelou






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