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Emma Trelles was born in Miami, Florida, and is the daughter of Cuban immigrants. She received her MFA in creative writing from Florida International University.
A poet, writer, and educator, Trelles is the author of Tropicalia (University of Notre Dame Press, 2011), winner of the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize and a finalist for Foreword/Indies poetry book of the year, as well as the chapbook Little Spells (GOSS183, 2008).
Trelles teaches creative writing at Santa Barbara City College, where she also coordinates the Writing Center, and has taught poetry writing workshops for O, Miami Poetry Festival, the Sanibel Island Writers Conference, Pintura Palabra: A Project in Ekphrasis, and in other academic and community-based settings.
Trelles is the recipient of fellowships and honors from CantoMundo, Letras Latinas, and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs.
For the last eight years, Trelles has curated the Mission Poetry Series. In April 2022, she became the series editor of the Alta California Chapbook Prize for Latinx poets, which selects two chapbooks for publication in bilingual editions through Gunpowder Press. She is the ninth poet laureate of Santa Barbara, California. In 2022, Trelles received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.
In 2022, Emma Trelles was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Trelles will further develop the Mission Poetry Series to include additional honoraria for poets and four seasonal community poetry classes in conjunction with the Santa Barbara Public Library. The workshops will be taught by Mission Poetry Series poets at the library’s central and auxiliary branches, and they will be free and open to the public. One poem written by each class participant will be selected to be published and publicly displayed in an outdoor poetry walk at the library’s branches and local schools. Trelles will also continue to fund and develop the Gunpowder Press Alta California Chapbook Prize in 2022–23. Open to all Latinx poets throughout California, the prize amplifies and honors the voices of Latinx writers and their communities through publication in bilingual editions, a $250 honoraria, ten copies of their chapbook, and an invitation to read at the Mission Poetry Series.