Feb. 6, 2019 - Chicana/o writer, poet and social commentator Michele Serros loved Valentine’s Day.

“She loved Valentine’s Day cards and sent them to everyone,” said Serros’ close friend, CSU Channel Islands (CSUCI) Assistant Professor of Chicana/o Studies Jennie Luna, Ph.D. “It was her favorite holiday.”

Plus, Serros was born on February 10, so it seemed fitting to choose February 14 as the date for the opening of the Michele Serros exhibit in the John Spoor Broome Library Gallery. A gallery reception from 5 to 8 p.m. will include readings of Serros’ poetry and prose. The reception will also include the screening of a short film called “Cielo or Bust: Honoring the Life and Work of Michele Serros and her Stories of Death, Identity, and Oxnard” by director/producer Julio Alcala.

Luna will be featured in the film and Chicana/o Studies student Rebecca Marquez assisted with the production. Marquez spent the last year archiving the Serros collection, a project that inspired her to pursue a graduate degree in Library Science.

“It was a very emotional process,” Marquez said. “I became really invested in it. It was like her whole life was in these boxes. I got to see her ups and downs, her successes, her failures. I saw things from her perspective and felt a deep connection to her.”

Serros died at the age of 48 after a battle with cancer, and is survived by her husband, Antonio Magana, also born and raised in Oxnard.

Before her death in January of 2015, Serros arranged for CSUCI to receive her original manuscripts, notes, last printed copies of her books, skateboards, personal effects and most importantly, her desk, which she writes about in her 1993 publication, “Chicana Falsa.”

The exhibit will display a wealth of her memorabilia including a script she wrote for comedian George Lopez, t-shirts and her art collection.

Serros also left her personal library and the rights and royalties to her books. Any monetary gain from reprints will go toward CSUCI’s Chicana/o Studies program, and support for the Michele Serros Multicultural Living-Learning Community, one of several living-learning communities at CSUCI in which students with a common academic focus are housed together in an attempt to give the students a fully immersive living/learning experience.

The Oxnard native was herself a Chicana/o Studies major at UCLA and the first keynote speaker for the Raza youth conference sponsored by Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA), a student organization that promotes higher education, culture and history.

Luna met Serros about 20 years ago when both were neighbors in New York.

“She and I go way back,” Luna said. “I was there with her shortly before she died. Before that we had lots of conversations. I knew she had such valuable documents and that we would be the best place to house them. This is her hometown. CSUCI is where folks from Oxnard come and she wanted to support the Chicana/o Studies program.”

Serros wrote several books and regularly contributed social commentary to National Public Radio (NPR). Books like “How to be a Chicana Role Model” and “Chicana Falsa,” a collection of poems, offered an often hilarious yet poignant look at what it means to grow up around California pop culture as a woman with Mexican-American heritage.

Honoring her life and work has been a labor of love for Luna and others who have been working toward a Serros collection at CSUCI ever since Serros died.

“For me, it’s cathartic. It brings me joy,” Luna said. “It’s not something that’s sorrowful. I will be here for the long haul to make sure this archive is made available to the students and the community. So everyone can realize not just her contribution to the field of Chicana/o Studies, but to the field of literature as a whole.”

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