Headshot of Ishara Serrette


Creative Writing (BFA)

It's fiction. It doesn't have to be real, it just has to be believable.


Ishara Serrette is a senior in the Creative Writing program. Originally from Philadelphia, she is graduating with a focus in both fiction and poetry. While primarily a fiction writer, she’s found that poetry can be just as and pulls from different creative faculties. Through her fiction, Ishara explores magical realism. She often finds herself changing one or two things about the world we know and writing about how that could impact people on interpersonal levels. Her goal is to leave readers wondering if they can be affected by world changes as well.

The majority of her characters are Black, stemming from a realization she had as a teenager that if she—and others who look like her—don’t write Black people in their stories, who will? She wants to have Black characters that are not only used as trauma fodder, but are allowed to experience the world as people just like anyone else—even if that world is slightly tilted on its axis. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Octavia E. Butler, Toni Morrison, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, whose characters are rooted in their own cultural experiences but not minimized to only those identities, she hopes to make as much of an impact in the future.

A photo of Ishara Serrette in a yellow shirt with red flannel, wearing square gold earrings.


"Burn" by Ishara Serrette

Who’s to blame if not the one holding the gun?
The system? Perhaps, but if the system is nothing it is
consistent. Mike Brown was shot six times
on August 9 in 2014. On November 24
Darren Wilson was not indicted of his crimes.
I stood in my grandmother’s house,
a couple miles away, cold wind swept through
the dark, empty home. I cried for two hours
for a young man I did not know. On November 24
Mike Brown’s step-father told everyone to
“Burn this bitch down!” and they did.
News plastered images of negros
and their thug behavior. Peaceful protests
bled into riots. At seventeen years old,
I wanted to help, to yell,
to break glass windows and set fires,
smash through walls with furious fists,
destroy my surroundings with the same heat
my mother had while beating the thermostat
when the lights first turned off. I wanted to burn
everything and burn with it so I could again have
light and heat around my body, the only home
I have always had. On November 24
I cried because Mike Brown’s killer was a free man
and the world was being cruel enough
to give me the excuse to release the tears
I wouldn’t let out for myself. We were never
meant to survive here, so who’s to blame?
A mother who couldn’t pay her bills, or
a system that’s been against us?

A piece from the short story "Faded Red" by Ishara Serrette

Amina stared out the window at a particular tree with knots going up the trunk. It looked diseased, like the knots were uninvited and unwelcome but the tree itself was unable to do anything about them. They drove past it slowly. She preferred when they drove faster and everything outside was a watercolor blur. Those were the times when she could feel like she was living in a world with nothing and everything. Now, she kept her eyes on the diseased tree until it was too far behind them for Amina to see easily.

Keyshia Cole was screaming through the car speakers. Amina was pretty sure this album was her mom’s favorite because she counted four times it had played when they went on drives in the car, which was two times more than that one Mariah Carey album. Her mom was between mumbling the words to the song and continually saying “Did I go too far? No, where’s that playground I always pass?

Amina turned her attention to the words going across the music navigation telling her the song playing. You’ve Changed... Keyshia Cole... The Way It Is.

“Oh, there’s that playground, okay we’re close,” her mom said, speeding up a bit. Amina glanced out the window and saw the strangely empty playground that her mom was talking about. She zeroed in on the faded red of the plastic slide and was reminded of that morning when her red hair dye leaked while she washed it. She had looked at it run along the white bottom of the tub and imagined it was her damaged brain bleeding.

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