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

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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To The Senior Graduating High School In A Month

"What feels like the end, is often the beginning."

It wasn’t too long ago that I was in your shoes. Just a little over a year ago, I was the senior that had a month left. One month left in the hometown that I grew up in. One month left with the friends that I didn’t want to leave. One month left in the place that I had called “my school” for the past four years. You are probably thinking the same things I thought whenever it came down to only 30 days left. You’re probably scared, nervous, worried, or anxious. Maybe you’re like me and are dying to get out of high school, ready to start a new chapter. Or maybe you aren’t so ready yet. Maybe you’re wishing for a little more time.

As scary as it is, this month you have left will fly by. You’ll blink and you’ll be standing in your cap and gown, waiting for your name to be called to receive your diploma. You’ll look back on your last four years at your school and wonder why time went by so fast. It’ll be bittersweet. However, trust me when I say that you have so much to look forward to. You are about to begin taking the steps to build your future. You are going to grow and learn so much more than any high school class could teach you. You are going to meet amazing people and accomplish amazing things. So, as scared as you might be, I encourage you to take that first step out of your comfort zone and face this world head on. Chase your dreams and work towards your goals. You are smart. You are brave. You are capable of achieving amazing things. All your life, the lessons you have learned have prepared you for this point in your life. You are more than ready.

There are times when you will feel alone, scared, or confused. There are times when it won’t always be easy. But those are the times when you will shine the most because I know you will work through whatever problems you may face. Don’t think of the bad times as a terrible thing. Use them all as learning experiences. As author Joshua Marine once said, “Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

You might think that this is the end. However, it’s not. This is only the beginning. Trust me when I say that the adventures and opportunities you are about to face are nothing compared to high school. Whether you are going to college, going to work, or something else, this is the beginning of your journey called life. It will be exciting, it will be terrifying, but it will all be worth it.

So, as you walk out of your high school for the very last time, I encourage you to take a deep breath. Relax. You’ll always have the memories to look back on from high school. But your time is now, it begins today. Embrace it.

Cover Image Credit: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1152445/images/o-HIGH-SCHOOL-GRADUATION-facebook.jpg

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Let's Talk More About Lori Laughlin Facing Up To 20 Years In Prison When Brock Turner Got 6 Months

And he was released three months early for 'good behavior'... after sexually assaulting an unconscious girl behind a dumpster.


To start, Lori Laughlin messed up royally, and I don't condone her actions.

If you live under a rock and are unaware of what happened to the "Full House" star, here's the tea:

Lori Laughlin and husband Mossimo Giannulli — and like 50 other celebrity parents — were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud, and paid a $1 million bail on conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and honest services fraud. You don't need to know what these mean except that she paid $500,000 to get her two daughters, Bella and Olivia Jade Giannulli.

I know you're wondering why they did it — tbh I am too — however, these parents paid the University of Southern California to give admission to her daughters in through the rowing team on campus, despite neither one of them actually playing the sport ever in their life.

Yeah, Aunt Becky messed up and should face punishment, but why is she facing up 20 years when men like Brock Turner are sentenced only six months for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster at Stanford?

I hate to bring up the gender card, but I'm pulling it: Why is Lori Laughlin — a woman who with bad judgement who used money to give an upper-hand to her entitled daughters — face more prison time than a man who willingly raped a woman who wasn't in a right state of mine (or any at all!) behind a dumpster of all places.

The answer? Because the system is a mess.

Yeah, Aunt Becky paid for her daughters to get into a school, giving disadvantages to students actually deserving and wanting to attend a college. Her act was immoral, and ultimately selfish, but it doesn't even compare to what Brock Turner did, and it doesn't even effect others as much his rape survivor.

The most that will happen to the Giannulli girls is an expulsion and a temporary poor reputation, however, Emily Doe (the alias of the survivor) will feel the consequences of the attack forever.

There should have been a switch:

Lori Laughlin and the Target guy should have had to pay other students tuition/student debt while facing prison time, while Brock Turner should have had to face over 20 years with more consequences.

But, that'll never happen because our system sucks and society is rigged. I guess our society would prefer a rapist walking around more so a woman who made a poor choice by paying for her daughters to go to a college.

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