Author: forumccsf

An Interview with Angie Chau

Interviewed by Katerina Argyres

Angie Chau’s daring 2010 short story collection, Quiet As They Come, has been adopted for classroom curriculum at universities and high schools across the country–including at our own City College of San Francisco.

Finalist for both the Commonwealth Club Book of the Year and the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Book of the Year awards, Quiet As They Come explores the lives of Vietnamese immigrants as they struggle to adjust to life in San Francisco. Three families share a house brimming with secrets, dreams, and desires. Some thrive while others are destroyed by the false promise of the “American Dream”.

Chau, winner of the 2009 UC Davis Maurice Prize in Fiction, has been published in many distinguished literary magazines. Her work has earned her a Hedgebrook Residency, an Anderson Center Residency and a Macondo Foundation fellowship.

Chau was born in Vietnam and traveled throughout the world before settling in California. She earned a BA in Southeast Asian Culture and Political Economy from UC Berkeley and a Master’s degree in English with emphasis in Creative Writing from UC Davis.

How old were you when you left Vietnam? Where did your family move to?

I was three years old when we left and four by the time we arrived in San Francisco.

In many immigrant stories, most people are caught in between two cultures and trying to find harmony with both. What was your experience of leaving home and moving to another country? Or if you don’t remember, what was it like for your parents or the rest of your family?

Your question is beautifully put and it’s an eternal question. How does one find happiness, balance, harmony, and live life gracefully? I think it’s a question that every individual struggles with regardless of country or creed. Maybe this question comes to the forefront in immigrant stories because the differences in cultural norms and tastes can be so striking when a person is uprooted from one country and put into another. It sets up tensions that are accessible for good storytelling if done right. In practical terms though I whole heartedly confess to picking and choosing what I like best from each culture, whether Vietnamese or Western, and selectively integrating what I like.

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“Fire” by Sarah Hoenicke

Fire

by Sarah Hoenicke

We line up and we know what they think of us. We know they see us as freaks; we know they do not see us. It took a long time for me to see that life is more than what you see, and I think some folk do not, they do not ever see that. They go on, to them we are our shirts, pants, legs, arms–each of us a bone, all of one corpse, we go to the fire. But what makes me, that is more than the me you see. It is the thought, the choice, the laugh; it is the thing that I do with my eyes when I smile or frown, the ways my skin folds–these make me. Mom, she’s in front of me. She has short hair, too short. It looks bad and makes her feel like a small thing when she is a big thing, at least to me. She has bad clothes too, clothes that the camps didn’t want. They take all from us, but don’t want what she has. It is too poor for the poor; the work dust on it will be food for the fires. My dad, his son, they are sent to a camp far from us, over the fence, the cold fence. We do not hear from them, but I hear that the men, they have it worse than us. They are told: work, work, work, work, then die. We are just told: die. One girl, she has a baby. They pass the babies through the hole in the fence. Those that are not like us, some of them take the ones that are small enough to fit through. I think of what will happen to them, those small babes born in the midst of this death place, those ones that get set free. And I think I should have had such luck, to be one of them, and not me. They break us up now, and make us form two rows. They scream. We scream. I can’t reach her hand. She can’t get to me. They have clubs and guns. I don’t know why they take us apart just to push us back together. Maybe for fear. There we were as one, one more time, all our big Jew bones in one room. That’s what they say: your big Jew bones, you brown girl–but I’m not brown. The room is closed. There is no light. They line us up. No one fights. There are dead with us, and small ones too small to do much but cry. We are one, and that’s how they burn us.

Sarah Hoenicke’s Fire will be published in our Spring 2013 issue.

Copyright © Sarah Hoenicke

“Ilium” by Ayo Khensu-Ra

Ilium

by Ayo Khensu-Ra   for Jenna

When the fires went up on the last day,
the embers flew into the sky, crackled
like the stars that were no longer there.

Words went into the flames
lives, records, whole stories
consumed in the heat of change —

they fueled our endings, threw
up the hot air that stirred our sails;
they were funerary offers to a dead world.

When did it start? When they left us?
Now we leave each other
and I stand alone with strangers

on the last beach, sand on the edge of some hell.
We will leave in the black ships lost out
in the darkness, riding at anchor.

I hold the jar against my body,
the glass warming almost as if
it has already been touched

by the flames
the paper charring inside
gasping out its last light before falling to ash.
I unscrew the lid, put the jar down,

tie the packet of papers to the smooth stone
I hold in my pocket.
In firelight

I glance again at the words,
the black ink, all the things
I can remember, all of me,

all of us. I toss it toward the fire
and soon it is gone and
all the world is doomed.

I turn and walk in the sand,
not sure I want to sleep,
not sure I want to wake.

The sky is black.

Ayo Khensu-Ra’s Ilium will be published in our Spring 2013 issue.

Copyright © Ayo Khensu-Ra

“Incomplete Sentences” by C. S. Hull

Incomplete Sentences

by C. S. Hull

When my grandmother
was asked why she can’t complete
a sentence
before going onto
the next – continuously
confusing her listener –
she considered for a moment
before responding:
that she thought too fast –
she thought too fast
and by the time the words were
free, had flown from
her mouth and lingered
long enough to be heard,
that she was bored by them.
Her dialogue was
in effect old news,
and she was ready for the next
morsel of information
as it was ripening in
her mind. The pathway,
the expressway from thought
which moved at the speed of light,
bottlenecked
in its conversion to sound.
Consequently her listeners
could never enjoy the velocity
of her internal brainstorm
and were never privy
to a fully realized
sentence.

C. S. Hall’s Incomplete Sentences will be published in our Spring 2013 issue.

Copyright © C. S. Hull

Open Mic & Readings at Cafe La Boheme This Sunday (4/14)


Following in the spirit of Forum‘s recent publication party—which, if you missed, was a great success and a lot of fun—we are hosting a second open mic and reading this semester, this time at the ever-excellent Cafe La Boheme. Located next door to the 24th Street BART station, Cafe La Boheme is not only easy to get to but also serves as a dependable locale for finding good food, drink and conversation—and, in the case of this upcoming Sunday, a chance to hear the latest literary works of the CCSF community as well. So whether you have some new or old work you would like to read, you’d like to hear some great stories and poetry, or you’re simply looking for something to do Sunday night, come on out and enjoy the festivities!

When: Sunday, April 14, 2013 @ 5:30 PM
Where: Cafe La Boheme (3318 24th Street)

“Holding Up the Circle” by Jordy Lynch

Here is a preview of Jordy Lynch’s Holding Up the Circle, which will be published in our Spring 2013 issue. Jordy read the piece at the release party for Forum‘s Fall 2012 issue, video from which can be viewed below.

Holding Up the Circle

by Jordy Lynch

I looked up.

Clouds spread out across the sky, covering any blue the atmosphere usually reflected, resulting in a range of dark and light grey.  The mottled sky peaked through treetops and around rooftops.

I was walking to the lake, the usual sounds of gunfire absent today. The gun range across the lake was only open on Wednesdays and Sundays. I think it was a Tuesday. I always wondered why the lake in the city would have a gun range attached to it, but the lake absorbed any missed rounds. Plus the water acted as an excellent surface for the gunshot reports to travel on, and I enjoyed the periodic noise of the firing range.

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Meet the Spring 2013 Staff

Jerome Steegmans, General Editor
Author. Editor. Occultist. Publisher. On my bedside table: Terisa Batista; Home From the Wars by Jorge Amado; Tell My Horse by Zora Neale Hurston; Norse Mythology and the Modern Human Being by Ernst Uehli; The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi; the February 2013 issue of Poetry; the Winter 2012 issue of The Paris Review; A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake by Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson; The Red Book (or Liber Novus, a reader’s edition) by C.G. Jung; The Old Testament, by God (sic). On my eReader: Finnegans Wake by James Joyce; Lolita by Vladamir Nabokov; Nine Lectures on Bees by Rudolf Steiner; Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace; The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick; the Alan Moore stretch of Swamp Thing. Perhaps I am reading too many things at once …

Seth Luther, Managing Editor
Seth Luther is the managing editor this semester for Forum Magazine. He is currently reading Kobo Abe. He also likes very much Kafka and Vonnegut. He is also the mastermind behind Magicwear Manwear Underwear: a manufacturer of manly magical underwear designed specifically for men who are magicians. His efficiency studio apartment receives no light causing mold to grow on his face instead of facial hair.

Nick Witstok, Fiction Editor
Nick Witstok is in his third year at City College and is a fiction junkie/editor at Forum. He has taken a handful of creative writing classes, reads Cormac McCarthy almost religiously, writes surreal/dark fiction, jams at local metal shows, and is currently working on a story which will undoubtedly drive him insane. Also enjoys Faulkner, Hemingway, Thomas Harris, Dennis Lehane, Stephen King, Joseph Conrad, Tim O’ Brien and The Art of War. (more…)

“White Matter” by Natalie Enright

Here is a sneak peak of Natalie Enright’s White Matter, a story of love and loss, which will be published in our Spring 2013 issue. Natalie read the piece at the release party for Forum‘s Fall 2012 issue last Friday, video from which can be viewed below.

White Matter

by Natalie Enright

His alarm sounds loudly. She barely reacts. She was already awake. The sound of waves crashing outside their window and wind swirling reminds her of a childhood memory; a day at the beach when she lost her beloved stuffed animal. The memory ends as soon as it begins. It was just an image of a little girl in a bathing suite crying next to a woman holding her hand. The smell of brine precedes the sun peeking through the open window of the tiny room. The smell comes through the screened window down the bedroom wall across the carpeted floor and up the mattress lying on the floor, up the other wall and out the window back to the ocean. She is never up this early.

He exhales as he lifts the blanket off his body and then lifts himself up and to the edge of the bed, then turns the alarm off on the floor. The blanket folds over back towards her and a breeze from the open window kisses her exposed thigh. He stands up and leaves the room quietly. She throws the cover over herself and slips underneath. The bed is cold without him. Her body follows a current of sheets moving towards the foot of the bed. She finds a spot still warm from where he was lying and rests her body in the space he left behind. She is listening to him getting dressed and then him moving his things down the hallway to the front door. She wonders if he noticed that she was awake. She feels the undertow of her sensitivities and hopes it will pass and lead back to sleep. Instead she resurfaces to the edge of the blanket at the head of the bed to listen to him leave. He opens the door and carefully carries two bags with him. His keys jingle as he turns the lock and then she listens to his footsteps fade away. It’s too early to say goodbye.
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The Forum Fall 2012 Release Party

Friday was the release party for Forum’s Fall 2012 issue, and the party was a great success! Thank you everyone who came out. And a special thanks to the English Literature Club for hosting us, to Katerina Argyyles for the excellent hors d’oeuvres, to all the great readers—Jordy Lynch, Aaron Arnold, Brittanic X.O. Zane, John Silverman, Vincent Cheng, Jerome Steegman, Maya Archer-Doyle and Natalie Enright—for their courage and generosity, and likewise to all those who participated in the open mic, much thanks to all. In the coming weeks we will be publishing video of readings from the event but in the meantime here are a few photos of all the gala and fun.

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Last Day to Submit Work for the Spring Issue

For all of you out there who, like me, tend to wait till the last minute to submit work, now’s your time to shine! It’s now the last minute; the moment you’ve been waiting for. So finalize any remaining revisions and send your work in today. And remember, we accept submissions from anyone who has been involved with CCSF, past or present, whether as a student, as faculty, or as staff. So if you have been or currently are a part of the CCSF community and you have literary or artistic works you’d like to see published, we’d love to see them. We accept works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and art, including: short stories, essays, interviews, photography, drawings, paintings, and so forth.

For more information how to submit, please check out our posted submission guidelines. You can also direct questions to our editor at editor@forumccsf.org. Keep in mind too, if you aren’t able to submit in time for the Spring 2013 issue, there’s still plenty of time for our Fall 2013 journal.

As always, submit early and submit often. We look forward to seeing your work.