With the new quarter comes New Forum’s first event of the season: Open Mic.
HG 1010 was alight with laughter and delicious smells of food at 6pm as New Forum invited Anteaters to their first reading on October 10th. The immediate draw of the room was the sight of strawberries, cookies, cheese, and crackers, ready to appease starving college students seeking free food and a chance to share their creativity. The delicious snacks, however, were not the best part of New Forum’s open mic.
The evening began with a short introduction by the editors and the shameless promotion of their website and social media. This team of editors is unsurprisingly passionate and persuasive; before the series of readers were even introduced, they were all helping new writers meet die-hard New Forum event attendees. Editor-in-chief Misha Ponnuraju was buzzing around the room, twisting everyone’s arm into reading, and adding name after name to the list of readers on the whiteboard. Of the 22 audience members, 12 brave students volunteered to bare their souls and speak.
The pure support and joy in the air was palpable. If you need a place to laugh, relax, and potentially cry, hit up a New Forum reading. From a unique non-English major’s perspective in Constance Lin’s poem entitled “Fuck Boy” to an unexpected rap-esque poem from Zach Simmons’ in “Unrequited Puzzle Pieces,” the audience spared no applause. Each piece was thoroughly cheered on both before and after they took on the challenge of public speaking. While most readers stuttered at some point, the audience never failed to let out a sympathetic chuckle or smile. Sarah Mayo, second year English major with an emphasis in creative writing and the design editor for the New Forum, performed arguably the most emotionally charged prose of the evening in her piece “Last Looks.” Here’s a taste of what you missed:
“Lately I’ve been thinking, if I had a moment to speak, what would I say? How would I
justify myself, if I were to beg for my life, how would I defend it? How could I ever say,
I know that others have been demolished by your weapon already, I can taste the iron
tang of their blood on my tongue, but please don’t do it to me? Because I’m not ready. Or
would I try to say I love you, either because that’s maybe the one thing he never heard
enough, or because then my last words would be light and good on my tongue…”
Let that sink in.
The New Forum is an open community that shares feelings, experiences, and intangible emotions. The editorial team works ceaselessly to create a vibrant, inviting space for UCI’s undergraduate writers. While their army is a small, hidden part of campus life, it is a longstanding student-run example of what UCI has to offer the world. This publication has been successfully collecting student work for almost 20 years and is still making revolutionary changes in the way they operate. Aiding Ponnuraju is a carefully selected group of literary warriors: Adam Timms, financial director; Analisa Gomez, events coordinator; Jocelle Valera, events coordinator; Camila Dadabhoy, events coordinator; Yanit Mehta, design coordinator; Sarah Mayo, design editor; Erika Higbee, design editor; Julianna Vu, social media editor; and Audrey Fong, social media editor. These editors are breaking new ground, starting with this past Wednesday’s open mic. It was the first time, and not the last, that they have held an open mic for writers to bounce around ideas and revel in each other’s support.
Another unprecedented step the editorial board is making this year is a series of editor blogs on different writing related topics, such as Ponnuraju’s blog post for the New Forum’s series, “East of Eden, North of Irvine: The Joy of Representation.” She gives a book review of John Steinback’s East of Eden while exploring her opinion on what truly defines an “American story,” and discussing whether or not the novel is a relatable narrative for many second-generation, children-of-immigrant students here on campus.
If you are remotely interested in the engaging dynamics of literature, creative writing, and kind discussion, keep your Anteater snouts open and ready for updates on New Forum events, so you too can enjoy the loving, emotional atmosphere of creative writing with new friends. Submit your art, photography, prose, and poetry to the New Forum by Nov. 1 for a chance to be included in the next issue.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed “Fuck Boy” to Erika Higbee, the author of this poem is Constance Lin. The names and positions of the full New Form staff have also been added.