Borderlands founders met through graduate poetry workshops
at the University of Texas at Austin. The Gulf War triggered an
awareness that the poetry we had been trained to read and write
had little connection with the social and political realities that
impinge on our personal, private lives. We began to look for a different
kind of poetry.
We decided to establish a journal with an outward-looking approach.
We also decided to give the journal a strong regional slant because
poets living in the southwest faced disadvantages in establishing
themselves, largely due to the relative lack of outlets in the region.
We also wanted to address Texas' increasingly multicultural population,
so we proposed giving space to bilingual poets, printing a poem
in its original language and, on the facing page, the poet's English
Fortunately, the Texas Commission
on the Arts and the City of Austin Cultural Contracts office
agreed with our concerns and provided partial funding; we raised
Many well-known Texas poets, among them Walter McDonald, Pattiann
Rogers, James Ulmer, and Naomi Shihab Nye, responded to our requests
for submissions and contributions. From outside the region, William
Stafford and David Romtvedt sent poems and supportive letters. Houston
artist James Surls agreed to let us use without charge one of his
prints as a cover design.
In November 1992, we published our first issue, launched it with
a reading by Texas poets, and distributed it in 20 states.