Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Creator Profile: Poet, Katrina Rojas

“Can we forget that society says we have to choose? Can we just be?”
Courtesy of Katrina Rojas

Editor’s note: This article was updated on Nov. 7 to reflect the correct name of a poem. The article was updated on Nov. 15 to accommodate the subject’s request for context.

Senior journalism and Spanish double major Katrina Rojas uses poetry to express her thoughts on love, her family and her identity as an Afro-Latina woman.

“I’m a very introverted person, very reserved, but I also have a lot to say,” Rojas said.

Rojas’ Instagram account, @katrinapoet, is a hub for her writing, photography and mindfulness practices, but it took years of practice before Rojas widely shared her work.

Middle school teachers were the first to compliment Rojas on her writing. She felt compelled to continue but noticed a shift in her motivations.

“I started to use poetry as an emotional outlet and more of something that I needed to do, as opposed to something that I did for class,” Rojas said.

In her junior year of high school, Rojas attended the New England Young Writers Conference in Vermont and was selected from her cohort of students to perform her poetry live. “Dear White People” is an emotional, confrontational poem directed at Rojas’ high school peers.

“Some are rich and Jewish as hell white people. Some think I have no money. Some think I am not as smart,” she reads. “I want to tell you how some of you make some of us feel.”

“This poem is a reflection of Rojas‘ experiences going to a predominantly white high school and being one of the few Black Latinas. Facing stereotypes and microaggressions from her peers and teachers fueled this poem, and sharing it out loud became a groundbreaking moment in her writing journey.”

At a practice reading for her first-ever performance, Rojas felt like she made the primarily white audience uncomfortable, but her cohort was there for support. At the official reading, the audience started clapping after the first line. Rojas understands her poems will not resonate with everyone, and she’s ok with that.

“There will always be people who relate, and others who don’t relate and others who have different opinions than you do,” she said. “That’s just what comes with that vulnerability you have when you’re writing poetry.”

Rojas plans to launch a line of handbags featuring the text of her poems and grow her brand, Lotus by KR, after graduation next year. She called the venture, “an opportunity for me to spread my words with others and positivity in all forms.” Rojas’ long-term goal is to publish a book of poetry, “Love Hits Like a Boomerang.”

“Poems don’t just flow out of me every single day. It’s a process,” Rojas said. “I go months without writing anything new, and that’s tough, but when I do write something that I feel is very meaningful and something that I’m proud of, I love to share that with everyone and find commonality between that.”

Rojas turns to other people’s work, like Toni Morrison and Rudy Francisco, to fill the gaps between her periods of writing.

“Whenever I need some inspiration, whenever I’m in that writer’s block, I read and I search different books that are aligning with what I’m feeling,” she said.

She suggests journaling as a meditative practice and turns to prompts and daily events to spark her interest.

“My biggest tip is to write something, even if you think it’s bad, because at the end of the day, it’s for you,” she said.

Earlier this year, Rojas used her platform on Instagram to host a series of mindfulness sessions with UMass communication major Meghan Buschini. The pair worked on a series of journaling and affirmation prompts before engaging in a short meditation with viewers.

“It really facilitated this online community of vulnerable individuals who care about their wellbeing and care about their self-care, and that’s something I really stand for,” Rojas said.

Rojas’ slew of creative endeavors embodies a line from her poem“Until It’s Over.”

“Can we forget that society says we have to choose? Can we just be?”

Catherine Hurley can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @cath_hurley.

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