My Speech at the Book Party

Publisher’s Remarks: Heart Songs, Heart’s Journey and Heart Strong: Poetry by Nina Serrano

Publishing these three books has been an honor and an immense pleasure.

Estuary Press has begun a new life with the publication of Nina’s poetry.  My involvement with Nina’s poetry goes back before I formed Estuary press in 1986.  Her first book, Heart Songs, came into my life because I knew how to type.  When she was preparing her poems written from 1969 to 1979 for publication by Editorial Pocho-Che, she needed the poems typed up.  I got the job.  It was enough to melt my heart.  Heart Songs came back again as the first ebook put out by Estuary Press in 2011 when we reissued the volume in order to make these poems available again and to do it on the world wide stage inherent in the internet.

Many things happened between the typing in 1979 and the republication in 2011.  I left academia for a life in the construction trades.  I witnessed the founding of the Mission Cultural Center and helped put in some plumbing on the third floor for Mission Graphica and my good friend Rene Castro.  And that did it.  As Nina says in her poem “Memories on Mission Street”, in Heart Strong (page 60) she “married the man who installed that plumbing.”

At that same time, 1987, I established Estuary Press and published “Critical Focus: The Black and White Photographs of Harvey Wilson Richards”, a book designed by Rene Castro and Debbie Netsky here in this building.  For the next 25 years, Estuary Press’ main activity was licensing of Harvey’s photos and films for use in dozens of films and other media here and around the world.  So, when I retired from construction in 2011, I turned my full attention to publishing and Heart Songs was the door opener.  After Heart Songs was up on Amazon, I asked Nina if she had any more poems for another book for the years since 1979.  Having been completely preoccupied with nail guns and table saws for so many years, I had not been aware of her writing activities, although I knew she was always busy with readings and performances all over town.  In very short order, hundreds of poems flew out of her file cabinets and computer and landed on my desk.  Not only that, but a stack of journals showed up full of the most marvelous drawings done during those years.  It was clear that she had enough material for two more books.  We divided the material into decades and grouped the poems into the chapters you now will find in each volume.  The drawings appear in both volumes after I finally persuaded Nina that they deserved a place in her books.  They appear as poetic images that deepen the expressions of her life and enhance the beauty of each volume.  Heart’s Journey presents poems written from 1980 to 1999.  Heart Strong from 2000-2012.  Both are being released this year, 2013.

One day during this process, I asked Nina what she wanted to call this series of poetry books all starting with the word Heart.  Without hesitation, she said Heart Suite.  So just as the hundreds of poems flew onto my desk the instant I asked for them, so too did the name of the series, Heart Suite, fall into place. And sweet it is.

In conclusion, these volumes are emotional sign posts of the history of this building and the struggles of the people here and around the world that are embodied in these walls.  Mostly history is a dry recounting of events and people that have brought us to this moment.  Heart Songs, Heart’s Journey and Heart Strong illuminate the inner events that happened on this journey.  As one who witnessed and experienced much of this history, I have to say that publishing these volumes clarified that journey like nothing else I can think of.   And it made my heart stronger.  Thanks to Nina and her wonderful poetry.


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