Love Thy Neighbor

Nina Serrano Poetry at Solano County Fair

My Love Thy Neighbor poem at the Solano County Fair evolved from my experiences way back in 1945, when I was a ten year old New York City child and I saw the movie State Fair. I thought it was wonderful and exotic with charming pigs, romance, and prizes. Finally, my chance to experience a local Fair came at age 84 here in Vallejo, CA.  Vallejo poet laureate D.L. Lang, and Benicia poet laureate Thomas Stanton, who are always looking out for our local poets’ interests, encouraged us to participate.
 
Like in the Hollywood movie, I dreamed of winning a Blue Ribbon as the mom did for her pie and the dad did for his pig. I already had the romance taken care of as my handsome husband Paul accompanied me to the fair with the grandkids. 
Nina Serrano presenting Love Thy Neighbor at the Solano County Fair, Vallejo, California, 6/28/2019.

Nina Serrano presenting Love Thy Neighbor at the Solano County Fair, Vallejo, California, 6/28/2019.

To submit your poem for judging under “Fine Arts”, you had to frame your printed poem for display and fulfill other requirements. You could also perform live on the Cultural Arts stage. When the promised band didn’t show up, the organizers hastily rounded up some live poets to read and I was happily one!

Tom Stanton introduced Myra Nissen, sister Benicia poet and me. The performers before us were hip hop artists accompanied by loud rhythmic music, animated with youthful energetic moves, and promoting anti-drug use messages from memory. As the next poet up, I feared that an old lady reading from a piece of paper would not be well tolerated. But no, I was attentively received! Paul videoed my closing poem, Love Thy Neighbor. 
 
I had originally written Love Thy Neighbor as a response to the 2016 election of our orange president. I felt Love was our only defense to the hate-filled discourse and policies he unleashed. I opened the reading with my poem Textile which is also the poem I submitted for the elusive blue ribbon and display. See below for the text of the Textile poem. I thought the poem’s theme of weaving would compliment the Fair’s exhibition of handiwork. 
 
I didn’t win the blue ribbon of my dreams because I mistakenly wrote my name as the author of the poem on the framed copy which disqualified it from the judging. Names were supposed to be on the back! Darn!
 
I am so grateful to Paul for the video.

Textile
by Nina Serrano
(For Elizabeth Serrano, Textile artist)

Bring your spinning wheel along and we’ll make yarn while we chat
Tell stories made of whole cloth woven of ancient tales from families
cradling sorrows and pain
folded into creases and stitched tight to hold fast the millenniums we birth
Blood oozing stains our thighs
that we open close and lift to move through life
Keeping us on the go under over around and around
Patterns evolving as we mix colors to dye threads tying our dreams to our actions
and the reactions they evoke
It makes a chain through the bloodline knotting links connecting one to another
Fabrics blown in the breeze the flag of the mind
fancifying words to dress up language
Glamorizing the charm of a ribbon that captures the heart
Unfurling uncurling Inching along
unmeasured yet growing an evolution of consciousness cuddling with warm breath
Heating soft skin through the coldest night
The tale of survival persists
struggling through bouts of laughter and floods of tears
One ply two ply then five
Knitting the balls so we can dress for the elements blowing us about
Bring your spinning wheel along and we’ll make yarn while we chat
Tell stories made of whole cloth woven of ancient tales
Under over under over Pass the shuttle along
This loom as vast as the universe in constant motion in this unfinished never-ending saga moving towards eternity
knowing no end

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 84 remains vitally engaged in inspiring change and exploring her abundant creativity. For more information go to ninaserrano.com or 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, paulrichards@estuarypress.com or visit estuarypress.com for more details.

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

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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 84 remains vitally engaged in inspiring change and exploring her abundant creativity. For more information go to ninaserrano.com or contact her publisher at estuarypress.com. For more detailed information about Nina see About Nina on her website.

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