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Letters to a Young Brown Girl named a finalist for the 2021 California Book Awards

We are excited to share the news that Letters to a Young Brown Girl by Barbara Jane Reyes has been named a finalist for the 2021 California Book Award for Poetry! The Commonwealth Club of California announced the finalists in a press release on May 18, 2021.

“The California Book Awards has been honoring California books and authors for nine decades,” commented Award Jury Chair, Peter Fish. “We think this year’s finalists are especially timely, innovative, and thought-provoking.”

Barbara Jane Reyes's Letters to a Young Brown Girl is a Blessing the Boats Selection that answers the questions of Filipino American girls and young women of color with bold affirmations of hard-won empathy, fierce intelligence, and a fine-tuned B.S. detector. Simultaneously looking into the mirror and out into the world, Reyes exposes the sensitive nerve-endings of life under patriarchy as a visible immigrant woman of color as she reaches towards her unflinching center.

Barbara Jane Reyes was born in Manila, Philippines, and was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author Gravities of Center (Arkipelago Books, 2003), Poeta en San Francisco (Tinfish Press, 2006), which received the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets, Diwata (BOA, 2010), which received the Global Filipino Literary Award for Poetry, To Love as Aswang (PAWA, Inc. Publications, 2015), Invocation to Daughters (City Lights, 2017), and Letters to a Young Brown Girl (BOA, 2020). She is an adjunct professor at University of San Francisco’s Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program. She lives with her husband, poet Oscar Bermeo, in Oakland, CA. For more information about Barbara Jane Reyes, visit

Celebrating its 90th birthday, The Commonwealth Club of California’s California Book Award have honored the exceptional literary merit of California writers and publishers since 1931. Each year a select jury considers hundreds of books from around the state in search of the very best in literary achievement. Eligible books must be written while the author is a resident in California and must be published during the year under consideration.

The winners of the 90th annual California Book Awards will be announced in July. A full list of finalists can be found on the Commonwealth Club's website.

Congratulations, Barbara!

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