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RIP Michele Serros: El Rio’s Chicana Falsa

January 6, 2015
    51NCZ5J8VWL “Annie Says”
by Michele Serros (1966-2015)

 From Chicana Falsa and other stories of Death, Identity and Oxnard (1994)
 
My tía, Annie, told me:
“You could never be a writer,
let alone a poet.
What do your know?
I mean, what can you write about?
 
“You got a D on your last book report
you gotta be able to write English good,
use big words…
and you’ve never even been out of Oxnard.
Writers travel
all the time
New York, Paris, Rome…
Every place they make Oil of Olay.
That’s where writers go,
that’s where they live.
Your family doesn’t have money to travel.
You never will.
And you don’t even type.
Now, how you gonna be a writer?
Sure, some famous poets,
they say
wrote longhand
but that was some years ago,
and they were men.
Men have it easy,
worthless lazy dogs.
But you wouldn’t know about that
’cause you’ve never been with one.
You’ve never
ate,
slept,
inhaled,
pure passionate love.
Writers are always in love,
like this Harlequin romance I’m reading.
Now, how are you gonna be a writer?
You don’t even like boys yet.
You’ve never given your heart to a boy,
so he could take it,
hold it,
clench it,
wring it dry,
to toss away,
forgotten in the gutter.
 
“They make you cry,
hurt,
suffer.
Writers know stuff like that,
they heal their pain with words.
You don’t know about pain,
anguish,
outrage,
protest.
Look on TV…
The Brown Berets,
they’re marching.
The whole Chicano movement
passing you by and
you don’t even know about that.
You weren’t born in no barrio.
No tortillería down your street.
Bullets never whizzed
past your baby head.
 
“Chicana Without A Cause.
 
“No, mi’ja,
Nobody will ever buy your books,
so put your pencil down
and change the channel for me,
it’s time for ‘As the World Turns'”
I was very sad to learn yesterday that author, performance artist, and spoken word poet Michele Serros died Sunday January 4, 2015 at the premature age of 48 of a rare cancer. Michele Serros left behind a wealth of stories to mark her life here in Ventura County and beyond. I taught her work often and my students loved knowing that she came from HERE. Born in 1966 and raised in El Rio near the town of Oxnard in Ventura County, Michele studied journalism at Ventura College. She continued her studies in writing at Santa Monica College where she was a student when her book Chicana Falsa was published in the mid-90s. Her follow up, How To Be A Chicana Role Model, led to her getting a job on the George Lopez show and many other opportunities as a writer, including fulfilling her dream of living and writing in NYC. Read Lisa McKinnon’s obituary of Michele Serros in the Ventura County Star here.
Michele never forgot her Ventura County roots and returned often to read. I will never forget the first time I heard her read upstairs above the Ventura Bookstore in the Oddfellows Hall in the early 90s; I think gauvin opened for her. She was outrageous–and she inspired me to push my writing, my poetry, and my performance further and to be fearless.
In the late 90s, she was a featured workshop leader and reader at a Ventura College event for area high school students that I helped organize, and she read at Ventura College as recently as March 2014 and this fall she was involved with the Cuento Cups exhibition at the Ventura County Museum. The show countered the Chipolte campaign of putting short stories on cups but that neglected to include an Chicano or Latino authors. I often used her book as a book club choice in my college classes.
In an email blast, poet and poetry host Phil Taggart said that he had been thinking about how much Serros meant to us in Ventura County, Oxnard, and El Rio:

“Michele was an incredible humorous, and 
insightful lens into our community.”

For someone who was such a wonderful reader and performer, I am surprised that I couldn’t find any videos or even audio of Michele Serros reading (if you know of some please leave the link in the comments below!). However, here are some videos with interviews with Michele Serros:

UPDATE 1/7/15: Celebrate the life of MicheleSerros

Sunday January 11, 2015 4:30pm – 8:30pm

Read your favorite poem , share a story , get hugs and laugh all evening . Tacos and drinks . Chicharrones if you dare ! Here & Now; 5471 Huntington Dr. N., Los Angeles, California 90032

Poetry readings at

EP Foster Library in the Topping Room at 7:30pm

651 E. Main Street – Ventura
host Phil Taggart
open mic follows
EP Foster Thursday Night Featured Readers:
January 15  Jules Nyquist & John Roche
January 22  James Cushing
January 29  Shelba Cole Robison
February  5  Jean Colonomos
February 12  John Ridland – Lincolniad
February 19  Lummox 3 reading
February 26  Maja Trochimczk and Ed Rosenthal
April 2           Mary Kay Rummel
 
Also at the EP Foster Library
 
Saturday, February 21 –  A Miramar publication party
 
Poets reading include:  Marsha de la O, Gary Young, Suzanne Lummis,
Jackson Wheeler, Polly Bee, Phil Taggart, Fernando Salinas,
Amy Uyematsu, Friday Lubina, Florence Weinberger,
 
in the Topping Room at 3:00 pm
host and publisher, Christopher Buckley
 
Miramar is published out of Santa Barbara and publishes poets from all
over the United States.  An inclusive journal that combines the past, the
now and future of poetry with the caveat, Miramar publishes poetry
and commentary; old school truth and beauty.
 
Poets published in Miramar include: Philip Levine, Kurt Brown,
Gerald Stern, Killarney Clary,
Juan Felipe Herrera,
Edward Hirsch,

Mark Jarman, 
Suzanne Lummis, Amy Uyematsu, Luis Omar Salinas,
Charles Wright, Laurel Ann Bogen, Peter Everwine, David St. John,
Naomi Shihab Nye, Dorianne Laux and many more..

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 11, 2015 10:04 pm

    Here’s some audio of her reading poems (on her myspace page, no less — oh the ’90s):
    https://myspace.com/micheleserros/music/songs

  2. January 11, 2015 10:42 pm

    Thanks!!

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