About Poetry

My website presents my poetry through my Heart Suite trilogy, Heart Songs, Heart's Journey and Heart Strong. These three books collect my poems written from 1969 to 2012. Many of my poems, including some written after 2012, are presented in the poem videos, audio poems, poem texts, and in my poetry blog posts. As a poet, my poetry/poems are journal entries from my heart and my dreams. My poet world encompasses my friends, family, home, community, city, travels, including death, birth, menstruation, menopause, youth, aging, cosmology, seasons, nature and the eternal mysteries of life.

How it all began

I began writing as a poet in 1968 at age 36, when I wrote a video drama with Roque Dalton for Cuban TV. Dalton was an exiled Salvadoran writer living in Havana where I was at the time working on a film crew making a documentary about Fidel for San Francisco, California TV. My concern for Roque's safety inspired my first poem in 1969, as he prepared to join the Salvadoran revolutionaries to liberate his country from the military dictatorship. When the poem was published in an alternative San Francisco newspaper, Express, I could only use his initials in the title and refer to El Salvador as “unknown terrain.”

Publication was a real thrill but was not enough. Back in San Francisco I began reading my poems at neighborhood rallies and meetings to “Free Los Siete,” referring to seven immigrant Salvadoran youth who had been charged with killing a policeman a few blocks from my house. This led to my involvement with an exciting group of activist Latinx poets in the San Francisco Bay Area. I became part of a literary collective called Editorial Pocho Che. My first book of poems, Heart Songs, was published by Editorial Pocho Che as part of its tenth anniversary series along with books by poets, raulsalinas and Roberto Vargas.

Throughout the 1980’s, I continued to write and perform poetry. But my poetic activities were often subsumed by solidarity work around the Nicaraguan Sandinista revolution (1979-1989) about which I have written a novel, Nicaragua Way.

In the 1990’s living in the San Francisco East Bay, I hosted poetry readings and poetry writing workshops at La Peña in Berkeley with poet Diane Wang for three years. Through Diane, I was exposed to the literature of the world’s great living poets of Africa and Asia, as well as works from antiquity. I also conducted Oakland public library poetry writing workshops called Wisdom Women with Mary Rudge, poet laureate of Alameda CA. whose knowledge and support infused my work.

In the 21st century, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars renewed my involvement with the antiwar movement where I met Peruvian poet Adrian Arias, who worked at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) in San Francisco which I had helped co-found in 1979. I translated his two chapbooks entitled: Poema del Día / Book of the Day (2008) and El Libro del Cuerpo / Book of the Body (2009). In 2011 we produced a bilingual chapbook of both our poems, called The Big Questions which also includes Arias’ visual art. The following year, (2012) I translated Arias’ ground breaking short science fiction visual-novel Beautiful Trash: The Lost Library.

Arias initiated a woman's arts series at the Centro for visual art and poetry called “Luna Negra” through which I met the feminist poet, healer. musician and spiritual leader Mamacoatl. Inspired by her charisma and bold activism I participated in many poetry reading for which I wrote new poems. We celebrated the UN mandated day of the Elimination of Violence against women on the steps of San Francisco City Hall with poetry, music, dance and ceremony for many years until her untimely death in 2015.

In continue to promote poetry in my radio work. Currently I produce poetry programs for KPFA (Pacifica Network) and for OZCAT radio in Vallejo.  I still continue promoting poetry on Cover to Cover, Nina and Jack, and Literary Dialogs with Nina Serrano on radio expanding to include videos on YouTube and on my website.

MEDIA – For photos & interviews: Paul Richards (510) 967 5577; paulrichards@estuarypress.com