Summer of Song


This summer for me was one of the best I’ve had in what feels like lifetimes. I drove on new roads, got so sunburnt I couldn’t sleep, met up with old friends, greeted new flings, cried for no reason at all, worked more hours than I can possibly count, and swallowed up as much sunshine as possible. This summer, I did not want to focus on creating, but rather absorbing. Absorbing books, flavors, feelings, art, and as much music as humanly possible. Music is one of my most celebrated art forms and I will endlessly be inspired by the ever-growing realm that is sound. Sound, for me, is directly aligned with memory, and this summer’s memories made a lasting home within these five songs. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and will continue to for more seasons to come.

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Barcelona, Amsterdam, Paris


Going to Europe was very spur-of-the-moment for myself and my travel-partner, and good friend, Samantha. Sam and I had travelled together before, the summer after our freshman year of high school, we went to Honolulu, Hawaii. This time, however, we’d be going somewhere much further. We decided we were going to Europe, but more specifically, we’d be going to Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Paris.

We were much older now, we were going on our own, and we were going to be in Europe for seventeen days. You could say, we had the time of our lives. Without a doubt our experiences were unparalleled. Still, there are moments unmatched, engraved, and unfading for me. Moments collapsing against each other over the course of these days. Moments I still think about now.

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It Is What You Mourn For: A Drought In Life and Poetry


The first I heard of New Forum was my first time at UCI. I’d accepted my admission without ever visiting the campus, so that spring I decided to attend a Welcome Day tour, promptly abandoning the tour and getting terribly lost but also getting to see more trees. After a few hours, I’d gone to an English majors’ mixer, met Professor Jayne Lewis, and felt secure in the fact that I wouldn’t hate it here. I was trying to find my way out when I wandered by the club fair in Aldrich Park.

Within five minutes, a girl stopped me and asked if I had any interest in creative writing (Yes!) She asked if I had ever tried submitted anything for publication. (Definitely not.) She asked if I wanted to be on their email list. (Su-ure?) I signed my name, left, and forgot about New Forum until several months later, when I had my first piece published in the journal and was formally introduced to a small but passionate pocket of UCI students.

New Forum’s End of the Year Gallery, Spring 2019

Time has passed and a lot has changed — this year I have the privilege of serving as editor-in-chief of New Forum, while Jayne Lewis is stepping in as our new faculty advisor, and our events have grown in scale and ambition — but in many ways, I still feel a certain timidity when it think of my role in the creative writing community at UCI. The truth is, some days, I don’t feel like much of a poet, much of a writer.

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How to Read for Fun – Seven Tips for Getting Started


The summer is almost over, and if you’re like me, you never got around to reading that book you said you would. You know, that book you impulsively purchased towards the start of the year, when you were too busy with work to make time for leisure reading anyway. 

Soon enough, June rolled around and “summer reading” became half-skimmed articles or other. Maybe you toyed with the idea of finding a book worth your time, felt the impulse to uncover an amazing summer fling, but you didn’t know where to meet this perfect book, so you gave up searching. Maybe you opened up a novel, but it didn’t open up to you. Now, here we are, a few weeks from fall, and for a long time most of what we read will be assigned to us. No more choice, no more freedom.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a season though, and the fact of the matter is that you are not alone. There’s no need to be discouraged by what you were or weren’t able to do. The first step to reading for fun is simply accepting that you want to. The second step is starting. But why, for so many, is that leap from step one to step two such a challenge? 

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The Power and Utility of a Podcast

BY JORDAN MCAULEY・ In June, I was a wreck. Granted I was certainly a wreck prior to June, but the barrier of “I’m fine’s” finally gave way and I admitted to being completely submerged.

Being as prideful as I was, this honesty was incredibly difficult. I felt an intense sense of shame because I wore my enlightenment on my sleeve. I had spent the past 4 months pouring over books like A New Earth and articles regarding mediation and mindful listening from 10 Percent Happier. I knew and preached about the venomous nature of negative self-talk and the importance of presence but, personally, could not seem to uncloak the layers of annoyance, selfishness and greed that radiated from the local restaurant I served for. I brought these layers home with me; I found myself wildly short-tempered, painfully frugal and grossly self-centered. More so, while attempting to describe my state, I found myself at a loss for words. I simply could not identify my emotions. Fatigue collided into annoyance, which bumped frustration who had been running a muck in sadness’s territory. Despite having a partner and two glorious best friends, for the longest I chose silence and solitude.

It wasn’t until coming  across the Brown Sister’s podcast, “How to Survive the End of the World,” that I came to realize that “we have all this exposure [to trauma] but no tools with which to process this exposure. A lot of us are an open door to the worst things that are happening in the world to come walking through to sit on our couch and we don’t have any way of setting those boundaries or closing the door.” This idea illuminated upon the collective internal apocalypse so many of us are grappling with today but rarely profess aloud. It led me to realize it wasn’t my workplace’s fault per say, but rather everyone else was suffering too. More importantly, however, it suggested that vulnerability led to clarity.

Thus, I beam with gratitude regarding the writers who so willingly share their own, inte

rnal destruction. Cheryl Strayed’s initial struggle to live according to the ideals she set for herself tasted like my own. Eckhart Tolle’s disgust with his current environment reflected my own disdain and Gabrielle Bernstein’s fervent attempts to control everything, and everyone, around her burned with unfortunate relevance. Despite such downfalls, however, each character rose to the occasion thereby foreshadowing the sunrise of my own triumph and the possibility of triumph for others. Oprah Winfrey’s “SuperSoul Conversations,” where these authors are featured, has allowed me to connect to their work in a way I have never connected to readings before. Through this medium, I listen to their stories. I heard the fluctuation in their voices and felt the authenticity singe throughout my being. For me, there is a nuanced power in spoken words that written work simply cannot imitate so I am grateful for this introduction to so many books that I deeply cherish.


The podcasts brought me to a point of essential self-reflection. I now admit to operating within my own perception of reality which enticed a tremendous amount of stress because reality failed to align with my vision of it. But I do not despise this realization, rather I surrender to it. As Misha suggested, “we have control over our essential truths, and we can hold onto them and taste their goodness.” For me, this means I must surrender so I may connect with the balance, peace and radiance within. It is not to say that I do not have my share of bad days, because I surely do, but that I notice my false sense of control more readily. I surrender to feel the internal evolution that deconstructs the desires and labels that have held me hostage for too long. I now bask in the enjoyment my journey has laid out to me, rather than being restless for results.

I believe that we are reflections of one another and the internal apocalypse we all battle is a projection from within; it is merely a mirror. So I ask, what truths have you been denying and what tools can you call upon to close the door to the world’s worst gifts? 


A Struck Bell: Annie Dillard, and the Recognition of Truth in Writing

BY SARAH MAYO ·  A few years ago, I heard the opening passage of Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek read aloud. It made an impression on me; as I listened to a woman describe a tomcat crawling on her chest in the early morning, leaving a trail of blood like roses, I knew that I would remember it, because it sounded like something I had heard before and recognized. I could smell the musty room, and see the window, the bed, the furniture, just becoming visible in the bluish light from a not-yet-risen sun. These weren’t the author’s words, but this was the image I kept in my head like a stone in my shoe for the next two years, remembering the book and knowing that I needed to read it.

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Em[body]ment – A Reflection on How Poetry & Performance Shape Each Other

BY LEILA ALSKAF · I was truly dubious to what the art of performance poetry was until I witnessed a Youtube video of Phil Kaye performing a spoken word poem titled “Repetition” at New York’s Bowery Poetry Club.

“I remember the bed just floating there.
Apart – Apart – Apart – 
my mother taught me this trick.
 If you repeat something over and 
over again it loses its meaning.”

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From the Books to Home: Remembering Family through Poetry

BY ERIKA HIGBEE · I never thought I’d be using the medium of poetry to tell my mother’s story. Admittedly, the impression of poetry I had for years was that it was for people far wiser and even far wealthier— to contemplate daffodils or the unbearable pangs of love. (Both of these circumstances are still true.) When I began to take the craft of poetry more seriously in my creative writing courses, however, poets like William Carlos Williams and Li-Young Lee surprisingly brought poetry far closer to home. The Rom

antics— good old Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron— were put on hold, and for a short while I began to read poetry about old women enjoying their neighborhood plums, gritty farm workers, and first-generation Asian Americans who struggled to preserve the language of their mothers. So the “everyday” life wasn’t left out of poetry, after all.


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