Poetry That Centers on the Great Adventure of Being a Woman
Nina Serrano’s trilogy of poetry books, Heart Suite, presents the poetry of one of San Francisco Mission District’s leading figures of the past five decades. Her poetry chronicles her visions, her feelings, and her intense involvement with the people of San Francisco and Oakland, California and the world she has witnessed including Cuba, Nicaragua, Chile, Mexico, China and the Soviet Union. As an activist, she has championed the causes of peace and justice around the globe. As a Latina and co-founder of the San Francisco Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts, she has taken up the call for cultural freedom, equality and respect for women. As a mother, grandmother and great grandmother, she has given expression to a woman’s experience and created a cultural legacy relevant to all women around the world. A writer, radio personality, film maker and teacher, her influence has had a profound impact on generations of people in ever widening circles. Now you can have her poetry from five decades of writing in three beautiful volumes, available in print or as eBooks.
Heart Songs, Collected Poems of Nina Serrano, 1969 to 1979 was first published in 1980 by Editorial Pocho Che, a San Francisco Latino literary collective, as part of a three-book 10th anniversary series. Estuary Press republished it in 2011 as an eBook.
Excerpts from “Serrano: Partisan Poet”:
Nina Serrano writes poetry with rich tones, with passion and tenderness, with anger, and above all with conviction that life can be absolutely glorious and people will make it so. Those who have heard her read know that is also the way she shares her poetry with us. She says in one poem “It feels good to write poems in San Francisco.” And because she is a poet-community activist, an internationalist, a partisan, and writes with such bountiful spirit, it feels good too to read her poems. The “place where poets meet,” she says, “lies in an inner space between the ribs, the lungs and hurting loneliness. A poet fills his bag with rose petals.” The place she wants to be is “in that moment of raining flowers.” Vivian Raineri, People’s World, Oct 25, 1980
Heart’s Journey: Selected Poems 1980-1999. The cover of the book, pictured here on the left, shows her drawings included in the book, and printed in color, from her journals of those years. The poems, together with the drawings, offer readers a multi-faceted glimpse into her thought over the last twenty years of the 20th Century. For younger readers and others not familiar with the history of those decades, Endnotes have been provided with references to events giving more information and context to her poetry. In the eBook versions, these Endnotes contain links to web sites that can be accessed instantly.
Nina Serrano’s poems center on the great adventure of being a woman. From youthful visionary to ultimate wise woman, Nina’s poems and drawings take you through the intricate passages of life’s mysteries. This intimate journey of the mind and heart is a book to cherish. One thinks of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Che Guevara giving it their blessing. This is an adventure book of life itself, a woman’s life transcribed in strong, courageous, heartfelt poems. Mary Rudge, Poet Laureate of Alameda, California , 2013
Heart Strong: Selected Poems 200-2012. This book includes her most matured poems as well as many drawings extracted from her journals and dreams or drawn expressly for a particular poem to extend the poetic visions beyond words. The exquisite cover by Adrian Arias and the other paintings and photographs presented in the book are by artist friends. Estuary Press’ has produced a book with exceptional values, from the layout of the drawings and poems to the table of contents and the inclusion of Endnotes to explain the historic context of the poems and their poetic form, for later generations of readers.
Nina Serrano writes, “I saw myself / reflected in a puddle of tears;” “There’s an old woman in a glittery tee shirt smiling at me.” The poems in Heart Strong swirl in different directions, but they always find their way back to that face in the mirror, the poet’s sole self—an entity which is simultaneously in violent movement and at utter rest: “later realizing the wildness / was me.” What Serrano sees is the heart-self raging. Her words and images tell the tale of a woman existing in the midst of history—in an age in which, strangely enough, it seems absolutely necessary to affirm that one can feel love. How, in the murderous twentieth/twenty-first century (“All My Life There Has Always Been a War,” “War Against Earth,” “Protestors Blues”), can love exist at all? Heart Strong tells how it can exist, and flourish, and even—in the midst of horror both personal and historical—heal. A strong heart (a strong heart is the very basis of poetry) can be a weapon.
Jack Foley, Poet, critic, radio host, author of Visions and Affiliations: California Poetry from 1940-2005.