Blessed Be the Latino Cultures of San Francisco
On October 8, 2014 I participated in the Lunada Literary Lounge at the Galería de la Raza in San Francisco, offering my recollections and a poem, Blessed Be Ralph Maradiaga. Ralph was the co-founder of the Galería. My poem to him, “Blessed Be,” was published in El Tecolote at the time and is in my book Heart’s Journey, Selected Poems 1980-1999.
The older I become the more urgent my need to tell the history I have lived through. Already its landmarks are leaving and we, its cultural workers and artists, are being relocated dispersed and scattered by the forces of gentrification. Yet, we are held together by memory, a shared culture, and passion for equality, justice and peace. It was on a lovely full moon at the historic Galería de la Raza that I had the opportunity to pass on a story of what happened and is still happening in that iconic spot.
This event takes on new meaning for me now in 2017 since the publication of my historical novel Nicaragua Way. The setting of the novel is in the San Francisco Mission District where the Galería is located and the reading took place. The protagonist of Nicaragua Way, Laura Almendros, worked organizing artists and cultural workers for the Friends of Nicaraguan Culture (which I co-founded) to support the Sandinista revolution that triumphed in 1979. This was a moment when the Nicaraguan people tried to build a new society while under attack during the Contra War. My poem Blessed Be brings the literary and artistic cultures of this San Francisco barrio setting into view, offering readers some insight into the people and places that brought me inspiration for the creation of the novel. I hope this video and poem contributes to keeping the memory, our shared culture, and passion for equality, justice and peace alive.
For Ralph Maradiaga
Co-Founder of Galería de la Raza
what you have done on earth
May it grow and spread
May its flowers
be abundantly beautiful
and its fruits plentifully sustaining
Servant of art
Magician of film and Xerox
of making each day move spirit forward
Form shining through content
celebrator of Day of the Dead
laughing at death
Blessed be laughter
and your students’ memory of your example
the corner you filled with color
and the light that shown through you
the gift of life
and the struggle for tranquility
About Nina Serrano: Nina is a well-known, international prize-winning inspirational author and poet. With a focus on Latino history and culture, she is also a playwright, filmmaker, KPFA talk show host, a former Alameda County Arts Commissioner, and a co-founder of the San Francisco Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Oakland Magazine’s “best local poet” in 2010, she is a former director of the San Francisco Poetry in the Schools program and the Bay Area’s Storytellers in the Schools program. A Latina activist for social justice, women’s rights, and the arts, Nina Serrano at 82 remains vitally engaged in inspiring change and exploring her abundant creativity. For more information go to ninaserrano.comor contact her publisher at estuarypress.com. For more detailed information about Nina see About Nina on her website.
About Estuary Press: Estuary Press is the publisher of Nicaragua Way. It is also the home of the Harvey Richards Media Archive, a repository of photography and video documentaries of various social change and political movements during the 1960s and 1970s. Contact Paul Richards (510) 967 5577, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit estuarypress.com for more details.
MEDIA – For photos & interviews: Paul Richards (510) 967 5577; email@example.com