Journal Entries from My Heart and My Dreams
My poetry/poems are journal entries from my heart and my dreams. My poetic 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.
I began writing 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. My concern for his safety inspired my first poem in 1969, as he prepared to join the Salvadoran revolutionaries to liberate his country from the military dictatorship. At the time of the poem’s publication in an alternative SF newspaper, Express, I could only use his initials in the title and refer to El Salvador as “unknown terrain.”
Publication was not enough. Back in San Francisco I linked my poetry with the neighborhood struggle to “Free Los Siete,” referring to seven 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 Latino poets in the San Francisco Bay Area, a literary collective called Editorial Pocho Che.
Throughout the 1980’s, I continued to write poetry. But my poetic activities were often subsumed by solidarity work around the Nicaraguan Sandinista revolution (1979-1989). The poetry of the next two decades is anthologized in my book Heart’s Journey. It is the second of a trilogy (following Heart Songs) called Heart Suite and contains my own drawings from that period. The third volume is Heart Strong a collection of my 21st century poems.
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.
Through the renewed antiwar movement, I began a long term association with Peruvian poet Adrian Arias, who works at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts (MCCLA) in San Francisco and re-connected with the new generation of writers and artists at the MCCLA. I became the official translator for Arias’ literary work and joined in the avant-garde arts activities he initiated at the MCCLA. 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.
Love passed over us like a cloud.
The air was filled with sandalwood and secrets.
It could have gone on forever
but clouds, like the moon,
have schedules and duties to perform.
So we moved on
to rush through love.
I began writing poetry in 1969 and continue up to the present. These 44 years of poetry writings are now published in a trilogy of poetry books entitled Heart Suite. Volume one is Heart Songs, Collected Poems of Nina Serrano (1969-1979). Volume 2 is Heart’s Journey, Selected Poems 1980-1999. And volume three is Heart Strong, Selected Poems 2000-2012. All are available on this web site in paperback and ebook formats.
Dreams of a room
with a door half open
spirits move through the crack in the door
the door shuts
on another world of events
I can’t remember
You can find my poems, poetry videos and audio recordings of my readings and the poetry scene I am immersed in, as well as upcoming events. I participate in many poetry readings in the San Francisco Bay Area regularly where I present my latest works and hear the poetry of my contemporaries, whose poems and concerns deeply influence me.
Barrio Hand Greeting
fist to fist
The innocent infant in his happiness
looks at me with such open love
as he would melt to be part of me
Part of me he is
Yet all his own
It is a lovely world he is born into
Flowers bloom for him for the first time
He loves without fear of loss or the end of love
The end of love is the loneliest place of all
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 Ninaon 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