Nina Serrano

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Nina Serrano
BornWeehawken, New Jersey[1]
Alma materUniversity of Wisconsin
Genrespoetry, plays, historical fiction
(m. 1953; div. 1976)
Paul Richards
(m. 1987)
ChildrenValerie Landau,[2] Greg Landau[3]

Nina Serrano (born 1934[4]) is an American poet, writer, storyteller, and independent media producer who lives in Vallejo, California.[5] She is the author of Heart Songs: The Collected Poems of Nina Serrano (1980) and Pass it on!: How to start your own senior storytelling program in the schools (Stagebridge). Her poems are widely anthologized, including the literary anthology, Under the Fifth Sun: Latino Writers from California (Heyday Books), and three anthologies of peace poems edited by Mary Rudge from Estuary Press. She has also translated two chapbooks from Peruvian poet Adrian Arias. She currently leads storytelling workshops at senior centers and elementary schools through She is the 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.


Early life[edit]

Serrano was born in 1934 in Weehawken, New Jersey[1] to Ida and Joseph Serrano.[6] She grew up in Latino and other immigrant communities in New York City.[1][7] She trained in theater,[8][9] studied anthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and traveled with student peace groups to Soviet Russia and revolutionary China in the 1950s.[1][10][11][12][3]

While raising her family and teaching, Nina has worked in theater, radio, and film. She helped make movies about Fidel Castro's Cuba,[13] about Salvador Allende's Chile and Sandinista Nicaragua. In Cuba, in 1968, she met Salvadorean exiled poet Roque Dalton and they co-authored a TV drama about the folkloric Dalton Gang and saw it produced on Cuban television.[14] This instantly made her a writer.[15]

Returning to San Francisco, journalism, playwriting and poetry filled the early years of her development as an activist writer. She wrote a series of articles on the Los Siete trial and wrote poetry published in the San Francisco Good Times. In 1969, she joined Editorial Pocho Che, an activist publishing group of Latino poets. She wrote her first book of poetry, Heart Songs, during this period, and it was published in 1980.[15] During the next three decades, she published her next books, Heart's Journey: Selected Poems, 1980-1999 and Heart Strong: Selected Poems 2000-2012, as well as appeared in many poetry anthologies. Through her friendships with Cuban poets, Nina began translating poetry, including her translations of Peruvian poet Adrian Arias. In 1982, she helped translate the Nicaraguan economic program of 1980, available as a bilingual edition from Estuary Press.

In 1972, she joined Communicacion Aztlan, writing and producing radio programs for KPFA. Over the next 20 years, in addition to her on-going radio work, she wrote and produced several stage plays, including The Story of the Chicken Made of Rags,[16][17] The Story of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg[18][19][20] and Weavings.[21] She also wrote and produced film scripts, including Que Hacer? (What is to Be Done?),[22] Después del terremoto (After the Earthquake),[23] and Back from Nicaragua.[24][15]




Other writings[edit]


Serrano has won several international film awards, including the XXXIII Mostra internazionale D'Arte Cinematografica award for Que Hacer: What is to Be Done?; and the Kraków, Poland International Film Festival award for After the Earthquake: Despues del terremoto.

Nina Serrano was awarded Oakland Magazine's "Best Local Poet" award in 2010.[26]

Personal life[edit]

Serrano served as an Alameda County Arts Commissioner, and is a former director of San Francisco's Poetry in the Schools program.[27] She was a co-founder[28] of the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco's Mission District, where she is still actively involved. In addition, she is a long-time producer of radio programs on Pacifica Radio station KPFA (94.1 FM) in Berkeley, California, currently hosting La Raza Chronicles on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. PT[29] and Open Book the first and second Wednesday of each month at 3:30 pm PT.[30]

Nina Serrano appears in the video "Frida en El Espejo/Frida in the Mirror" by Adrian Arias and music by Greg Landau[31] which screened at the SF Film Festival in April 2009. She is a great fan of the band Carne Cruda and their song “Oakland's Tight.” She is consultant for Round World Media and Fig Leaf Technologies.


  1. ^ a b c d "Husband mum on approval disapproval". Wisconsin State Journal. August 15, 1957. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Nicaragua Way: a Novel by Nina Serrano - About the author. Estuary Press. September 2016. ISBN 9780961872588. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Moe, Doug (July 1, 2003). "Following activist parents footsteps". The Capital Times. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  4. ^ "Home -". Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  5. ^ Elliot, Lisa Ruth (2016). "Oral History: Nina Serrano". Found SF. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  6. ^ "Joseph Serrano". Santa Cruz Sentinel. August 28, 1987. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  7. ^ "About Nina -". Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  8. ^ Wahls, Robert (December 12, 1948). "Nina's Cross". New York Daily News. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  9. ^ Leeds, Claire (February 12, 1963). "Creative Drama Class for the Restless Teens". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  10. ^ "Red China's Trip Light Fantastic". Wisconsin State Journal. November 8, 1957. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  11. ^ "Ex-UW Student Edits Newsletter". Wisconsin State Journal. December 1, 1960. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  12. ^ Hunter, John Patrick (December 1, 1960). "Castro Backers Reveal Tour Plan". The Capital Times. Retrieved July 20, 2021.
  13. ^ Landau, Saul (July 1, 2007). "Filming Fidel: A Cuban Diary, 1968". Monthly Review. 59 (3): 120. doi:10.14452/MR-059-03-2007-07_10. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  14. ^ Atwood, Roger (July 28, 2014). "Gringo Iracundo, Roque Dalton y su padre". Elfaro. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  15. ^ a b c "Author: Novel, Non Fiction, Scripts and more-". Retrieved April 30, 2019.
  16. ^ "Musical for Children". The San Francisco Examiner. January 13, 1977. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  17. ^ "On the Town". The San Francisco Examiner. September 1, 1974. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  18. ^ Fraiman, Michael (October 24, 2018). "Ethel and Julius Rosenberg find vindication on stage". Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  19. ^ "Drama of Rosenbergs". San Francisco Examiner. September 18, 1976. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  20. ^ "Coming Right Up". The Berkeley Gazette. August 6, 1976. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  21. ^ "Theatre". The Berkeley Gazette. December 14, 1978. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  22. ^ a b "Film festival awards given". The Baltimore Sun. December 11, 1972.
  23. ^ a b Silverman, Jason (February 13, 2004). "Impassioned voice for an unsung few". The Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  24. ^ "Anti-war films to debut". The Santa Rosa Press Democrat. September 22, 1985. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  25. ^ McDonald, Country Joe (July 9, 1972). "The movie is one thing, the soundtrack another". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  26. ^ "Best of Oakland 2010". Oakland Magazine. July–August 2010. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  27. ^ "Music, Dancing, and Films Celebrate Women's Day". San Francisco Examiner. March 3, 1974. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  28. ^ Vasilyuk, Sasha (August 18, 2007). "Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts turns 30". The San Francisco Examiner. Retrieved July 21, 2021.
  29. ^ "La Raza Chronicles Archives".
  30. ^ "Cover to Cover Open Book Archives".
  31. ^ Video on YouTube

External links[edit]