A Creative 20 Years: UCI’s New Forum Celebrates Talented Writers

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by Camila Dadabhoy

This past Wednesday, I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by one of UCI’s hidden gems: the UCI New Forum.

The New Forum is UCI’s very own undergraduate creative writing journal, open to all students coming from any major field of study. The organization strives to provide an environment for undergraduate writers to be published and have their work heard, regardless of their major or background. The New Forum motivates the talented writers of UCI to engage in a fun night with their fellow peers while showcasing vibrant and diverse art.

Every quarter, the board members of the organization publish an issue composed of written submissions from our Anteater community. The submissions span various genres including original poems, short stories, and creative non-fiction pieces. Once the works are selected for the journal, the team hosts an issue release party complete with refreshments, bonding games, and an open mic for students to express their work over an evening of casual fun.

The evening began with the selected students reading their submissions aloud, leaving the crowd in awe of their powerful words. I had the chance to read a variety of impressive works in the printed issue as well, and was pleasantly surprised by the hidden talents of our UCI students.

Out of the 40 submissions received for this quarter, only six works were featured in the fall 2017 issue. Sasha Seagull, undergraduate student at UCI, debuted her powerful, one-line poem called “3/11/17” during the open mic:

“3/11/17”

“You dragged me out to sea and drowned me in the love I was dying to show you”

When I inquired about her inspiration, Seagull said “I was going through a tough breakup around this time, and writing poetry was my favorite escape.”

Another selected submission comes from Samantha Wilson, president of UCI’s English Major Association. Her piece, “Who Knows What the Poet Dreams,” is featured in this quarter’s issue, exploring the creation of poetry.

“Who knows what the poet dreams,

what springs forth into creation,

weaving wonders with his words;

bringing color to life, one line at a time.

when you see him walking, do not ask: For his mind is a million miles away, dreaming of worlds beyond the Milky Way”

The crowd was entertained by the editorial board encouraging everyone  to participate in “word-raps,” where students test their quick thinking abilities by rapping creative stories to keep the rhythm going, as well as other interactive icebreakers. The delicious array of snacks had the attendees hyped for the open mic later in the evening, opening the floor for courageous students to express themselves through their art.

As an English major, I know the importance of an appealing, judgment-free space for students interested in the field of publication and writing. For two decades, the New Forum has provided just that.

Shantrell Lumpkin, the editor in chief of the publication, is a second-year English major who helps lead the program and orchestrate the quarterly events. When I asked about her goals for the organization, she responded passionately about what she hopes the journal will accomplish for students afraid of exposing their work.

“New Forum is a place for everyone. We want everyone to feel welcome and comfortable during our events, and we want to be a place where all majors can come together and get to know each other,” said Lumpkin.

In addition to Lumpkin, the current board includes Patricia Estrada,  fourth year English major and media director, and Adam Timms taking on the role of financial director. During the release party, Timms revealed that as a nursing major, creative writing is far off from his field of study.

“The creative writing emphasis and the work that Susan Davis helps the New Forum create, allows a space for students like myself to explore their passions and build friendships,” said Timms to the crowd at the party.

Additionally, the board members discussed the foundation of the program beginning with the Undergraduate Writing Emphasis in the English Department, headed by Susan Davis, who happens to be their faculty advisor. They provided further information for interested writers to join, as this is both an informal program towards becoming a writer and an outlet for interested students.

As of 2018, the UCI New Forum will be celebrating their 20th anniversary of the creative journal publication.

“As for the anniversary, we are still working on the idea for it. It will be a special issue, but it is in the works,” said Lumpkin. So keep checking your never-ending school emails as Lumpkin and the rest of the team might just have something creative coming our way.

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