Heart Strong, Selected Poems 2000-2012 by Nina Serrano
Heart Strong, Selected Poems 2000-2012 completes my trilogy Heart Suite presenting selections from my 43 years of poetic work begun with Heart Songs: 1969-1980 and then continued with Heart’s Journey, Selected Poems 1980-1999. I am glad to be caught up with the 21st century.
Heart Strong, Selected Poems 2000-2012 includes Nina Serrano’s most matured poems as well as many drawings from her journals and dreams, or drawn expressly for a particular poem. The exquisite cover by Adrian Arias and the other paintings and photographs presented in the book are by artist friends. Estuary Press has provided 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” and “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’ssole self— an entity which is simultaneously in violent movement and at utter rest: “later realizing the wildness / was me.” What Serrano sees is theheart-selfraging. 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 the Earth,” “Protestor’s 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.
“Nina Serrano’s Heart Strong, the final volume in a suite of three poetry collections, is a work that rings with honesty and sings with courage. We come to know the poet as a serious woman and as a political activist, one who seeks social justice in both arenas, always with an abiding and infectious zest for living. She moves us through a range of poems where some dream, others ponder life’s mysteries, still others read like indigenous parables; and in some, we stare with her head-on and unflinchingly into the face of death. Many of the poems are narrative, others lyrical, some meditative, still others inventive in form. We are often rooted in place as a stage for the serious struggle for global social justice; and yet, Serrano can delight as she throws a “ring around the moon” or conjures a “chorus of birds… quetzals of glory.” The best news about this collection is that we cannot help but leave it without both loving the poetry and feeling loved by the poet.”
Andrena Zawinski, author of Something About, a PEN Oakland Award recipient; Features Editor at PoetryMagazine.com
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