I Am A Poet

I Am A Poet

UCR lecturer and poet Sara Borjas talks about the events that led her to become a poet
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Two years after graduating high school, Sara Borjas was getting bitter working at a Denny's. So, she and her girlfriends signed a contract on the back of receipt paper stating that by next year they would all go to college. And they all did.

"That's how I started going to college, just because I made a contract with my homies at Denny's basically," she said as she added a laugh at the end.

Now, Borjas is a lecturer in the Creative Writing department at UC Riverside (UCR). When asked about her work, one of the first things that Borjas described herself as was a poet.

"I am a poet. I am a lecturer at UC Riverisde. I am a contract based instructor. I'm like a working artist, teaching artist," she said.

Walking into Borjas' office, you can see the student projects from her spring course lined on the right side of the office, surrounding a file cabinet.

"When I was younger, I always had a plan, I'm going to graduate. I am going to get a master's or a doctor's and get married and have kids and live in Fresno. And then I realized that life doesn't work that way. You think you have control, but you don't have much control at all. But you can be there and make a choice," Borjas said.

In fact, there were many events that led to Borjas becoming a poet.

Borjas started to appreciate language after taking an English class taught by John Moses, a playwright, at Fresno City College. She then took a Latino/Chicano Studies class taught by a teacher who was half-white half-Mexican and a supporter of "La Raza."

"I knew I was Mexican, but I felt like I was supposed to be white. I have never embraced any type of identity. Taking that class and then taking writing helped me find out who I was," she said.

During Borjas' time working at Denny's, there were many Spanish-speakers who didn't speak English, but Borjas wasn't a Spanish-speaker herself. As a result, their orders came out wrong.

"So, I was imagining what if this person tries to go to a bank and need help getting a loan or what if this person has to go to a doctor? What if they are involved in some type of lawsuit? How are they going to navigate that if they don't have the power of language?" she said.

Borjas then thought that she would teach English, or major in English and Political Science at the same time. Then, go to law school to help and represent Mexican-Americans. But then she took another class in the English department, a Chicano Poetics class with Alex Espinoza, a UCR graduate and mentee of Susan Straight.

"It was the first time I saw people like me in literature, and I was like 21 years old," she said.

But she did not receive validation about becoming a writer until she took a poetry class taught by Juan Luis Guzmán.

"[He] is just my homeboy now," she said.

Borjas decided to just major in English but with law school still in mind. However, a year after graduated Fresno City College, she researched MFA programs and got accepted into UCR's MFA program.

"Everything was little choices here and there, I'll just do this and see what happens," Borjas said about her path to becoming a lecturer at UCR and a poet.

Borjas' inside advice to writers was to make friends.

"The best thing you can do is make friends. Because all these people that you are in school with, they are apart of other organizations. They have other friends that you don't know. Their friends work at presses or journals or other universities. And just be generous with them and your time. People want to work with other people that are giving and have good spirits. Being involved as much as you can, letting the professors know you are there and involved, making sure that if you have a reading or open mic to invite them. And just being really nice and really caring because that's all we have as writers. There is no financial gains attached to the job. Culturally, there is no value. We have to make our own value and see each other. Keeping that as a priority has definitely benefiting me," she said.

Even though she has a website with her poetry, Borjas' still continues to work on her artistry.

"I try to be disciplined about writing. It's hard, sometimes you go through spurts. Some months I'll be writing every day and then I won't write for some months at all. I write, send my work out. I work with others in small community workshops. I do attend conferences when I can and workshops," she said.

As cliche as it may sound, patience is key for people working in the arts.

"In arts, you have to be able to do the work for nothing and when people see that you are down, things will come your way," she said.

Cover Image Credit: Martha Delgado

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I'd Rather Be Single Than Settle – Here Is Why Being Picky Is Okay

They're on their best behavior when you're dating.
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Dating nowadays described in one word: annoying.

What's even more annoying? when people tell you that you're being too "picky" when it comes to dating. Yes, from an outside perspective sometimes that's exactly what it looks like; however, when looking at it from my perspective it all makes sense.

I've heard it all:

"He was cute, why didn't you like him?"

"You didn't even give him a chance!"

"You pay too much attention to the little things!"

What people don't understand is that it's OKAY to be picky when it comes to guys. For some reason, girls in college freak out and think they're supposed to have a boyfriend by now, be engaged by the time they graduate, etc. It's all a little ridiculous.

However, I refuse to put myself on a time table such as this due to the fact that these girls who feel this way are left with no choice but to overlook the things in guys that they shouldn't be overlooking, they're settling and this is something that I refuse to do.

So this leaves the big question: What am I waiting for?

Well, I'm waiting for a guy who...

1. Wants to know my friends.

Blessed doesn't even begin to describe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I want a guy who can hang out with my friends. If a guy makes an effort to impress your friends then that says a lot about him and how he feels about you. This not only shows that he cares about you but he cares about the people in your life as well.

Someone should be happy to see you happy and your friends contribute to that happiness, therefore, they should be nothing more than supportive and caring towards you and your friendships.

2. Actually, cares to get to know me.

Although this is a very broad statement, this is the most important one. A guy should want to know all about you. He should want to know your favorite movie, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite Netflix series, etc. Often, (the guys I get stuck on dates with) love to talk about themselves: they would rather tell you about what workout they did yesterday, what their job is, and what they like to do rather than get to know you.

This is something easy to spot on the first date, so although they may be "cute," you should probably drop them if you leave your date and can recite everything about their life since the day they were born, yet they didn't catch what your last name was.

3. How they talk about other women.

It does not matter who they're talking about, if they call their ex-girlfriend crazy we all know she probably isn't and if she is it's probably their fault.

If they talk bad about their mom, let's be honest, if they're disrespecting their mother they're not going to respect you either. If they mention a girl's physical appearances when describing them. For example, "yeah, I think our waitress is that blonde chick with the big boobs"

Well if that doesn't hint they're a complete f* boy then I don't know what else to tell you. And most importantly calling other women "bitches" that's just disrespectful.

Needless to say, if his conversations are similar to ones you'd hear in a frat house, ditch him.

4. Phone etiquette.

If he can't put his phone down long enough to take you to dinner then he doesn't deserve for you to be sitting across from him.

If a guy is serious about you he's going to give you his undivided attention and he's going to do whatever it takes to impress you and checking Snapchat on a date is not impressive. Also, notice if his phone is facedown, then there's most likely a reason for it.

He doesn't trust who or what could pop up on there and he clearly doesn't want you seeing. Although I'm not particularly interested in what's popping up on their phones, putting them face down says more about the guy than you think it does.

To reiterate, it's okay to be picky ladies, you're young, there's no rush.

Remember these tips next time you're on a date or seeing someone, and keep in mind: they're on their best behavior when you're dating. Then ask yourself, what will they be like when they're comfortable? Years down the road? Is this what I really want? If you ask yourself these questions you might be down the same road I have stumbled upon, being too picky.. and that's better than settling.

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Writing Saved My Sanity

Write it all down when you can't talk to anyone.

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I love writing.

I have since elementary school, and I've dreamed of becoming a published author. I started off writing stupid plays in elementary school, then it grew it almost writing a full-blown novel in middle school. I have no idea where that thing went to. It was all notebook paper and bad writing. In high school, my writing was kinda pushed to the side so I could focus on school. When I entered college, I started writing small poems about my now ex-boyfriend.

I was scared to express myself to him sometimes, the intensity of my feelings for him scared me. So instead of telling him, I wrote them down. When I tried to share them with him, he hated it. He thought writing down feelings was weird and creepy. So I didn't share anything else with him. When we finally broke up for good, everything just poured out of me. What I couldn't express verbally, I wrote or typed out.

I always have ideas flowing through my head. They never cease and I wouldn't want them to. Writing gives me an escape, from stress, work, school, or fights. It gives me a place to vent and to be open with everything. This is a reason I love writing for Odyssey, not only has this place brought me amazing friends but revived my love for writing. I'm never without my notebook anymore, I'd get distracted in class by an idea and have to write I think then and there.

I love sharing my more personal writing with close friends, especially my poems as of late. I found that I have a voice for young women who find themselves in a toxic relationship much like mine was. I want to speak out and show them that you can grow from the bullshit. It may take some time, but you will be better.

Writing saved my sanity. It allows me to express myself without having to use my actual voice. Anyone who knows me, knows I hate public speaking. I tend to psych myself out leading up to it. My current projects include writing for Odyssey every week, I'm in the process of trying to continue my short stories, and I'm excited to announce that I'm currently working on my very first poetry book!

Writing has given me so much, and I'm so looking forward to making a career out of something I love so much.

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