Forum, the literary magazine of City College of San Francisco, gives voice to the talented authors, poets and visual artists in our community.
Forum Magazine is looking for original works of Fiction, Non-Fiction, Poetry, Drama, Memoir, Essays, Photographs, Paintings, Etchings and more—anything literary or artistic.
Forum accepts submissions from City College of San Francisco students, alumni, faculty and staff.
On behalf of the entire Forum staff, I would like to thank you for your contribution to the magazine. We couldn’t do it without you.
by Kristine Nodalo
Charles Bukowski is one of the most prolific and vulgar writers out there. He stood at five feet eleven, often wearing a collared button-down shirt, with a chest pocket consisting of a few pens peeking out of it, covering a beer belly that hung over his waistline–a reminder of his romance with alcohol. His large, bulbous nose shadowed over stained nicotine yellow teeth. His ravaged face was marked with scars and blemishes, resembling the hard life he lived. He sauntered his way to each of the bars he made his second home and wrote at his first when he wasn’t. Nobody would have expected the success he had by just looking at him and his lifestyle, for Bukowski’s prose and poetry has been translated into twenty-one languages, sales for his books rise every year, and a great amount of avid Bukowski readers live all over the world. Charles Bukowski’s unique life experiences made him a successful writer, as they enabled him to color his writing with the kind of simplicity, tough, vicious honesty, and straight forwardness it bears that makes it different from others, revolutionizing literature and poetry, also providing consolation and representation, specifically for the underdogs of society—blue collared workers, prostitutes, and drunks—at the same time. Continue reading “Bukowski” by Kristine Nodalo
by Ayo Khensu-Ra
Monday was the final class period for Forum this semester. In a way it’s hard to believe it’s all over and done with but within a week we (and you) could be holding a copy of the completed magazine, the very thing all that work was for.
Monday was the last class but it was far from typical. We talked about a few things, the upcoming reading, handed in final portfolios, got old work back. It was a quiet evening far removed from all those nights filled with proofreading, discussion and decision. In the past we’ve had food and drink on the last day of class; once we went out for coffee. In other words, this end of semester was slightly anticlimactic as life often is. There is also the upcoming reading at L’s Caffee which should make for a bit of a celebration. I suppose I’m commenting on the strangeness of ending up somewhere that is quite different from where we started. But could it really happen any other way? It was dark when class broke up on the first night and now that it’s another season, it was still light on that final day (also class ended a bit earlier). Time marches on. And cliché as it may sound I certainly learned new things about myself and about the process of producing Forum even though it wasn’t my first rodeo.
Although before I go suggesting the destination isn’t important I should probably say that in this case it is — the destination being the magazine. It’s almost here and again, you can pick up a copy next Thursday at the reading at L’s Caffee. I think I can speak for the entire Forum staff when I say I hope you’ll enjoy it.
L’s Caffe have been kind enough to sponsor a reading/fundraiser for Forum.
Reading will be crime novelist and teacher Seth Harwood and poets Nic Alea and Aimee Suzara and possibly others (watch for updates). There will also be the usual open mic, maybe a raffle and, excitingly, the latest issue of Forum will be out so you’ll have your first chance to see (and/or purchase) the latest batch of poetry, prose and art from the CCSF community.
Thursday, May 31
2871 24th Street, SF CA
between Bryant + Florida
at 6:30 pm
by Ayo Khensu-Ra
May 2nd has long held a sort of special aura for me. Improbably I reckoned some years ago that this was the date I picked up a certain book in the Hilo Public Library. While I wouldn’t say that book changed my life, it’s still one of my favorites — a strange mixture of science fiction, humor and gloom.
Anyone familiar with the series of which the book is a part will probably have guessed by now that I’m referring to the late Douglas Adams’ Mostly Harmless which was (amazingly) published some twenty years ago. I say amazingly because I was in middle school around that time an awkward, uncertain kid (it might be argued that I’m an awkward uncertain adult but that’s another story.)
The book is Adams’ final chapter in the series that began with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , a novel that was based on Adams’ own BBC radio program of the same name. Three books sit between the first and Mostly Harmless. They all center around the misadventures of Arthur Dent a fairly ordinary Englishman who just happens to be the last male survivor of the destruction of the Earth. I’ve enjoyed all the Hitchhiker’s books quite a lot but Mostly Harmless was the first I read and so is extra significant but something else I think draws me to that book in particular.
There’s a certain brilliance in Adams’ style. In each of his books he referenced and played with science fiction conventions bringing a kind of order through craziness. The books are very funny. Adams’ narrative voice is often calm, almost dry while discussing something completely absurd. But beyond that, Mostly Harmless has a rather intricate, intriguing plot. There are a number of threads to the story and there is a certain bigness to it that one might not expect from humorous science fiction novel. The elements of the story tie together wonderfully, everything falling right into place for the conclusion. It must also be said that the conclusion is far from a happy one which is something else that intrigues me about the novel–its mixture of comic and tragic. That mixture is something I later came to appreciate in the work of writer and director Joss Whedon (Whedon is probably best known as the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the much-praised and oft-analyzed TV series; his take on Marvel’s The Avengers just arrived in theaters). While Whedon’s work is certainly more serious in tone, humor is one of his trademarks. I don’t want to get too carried away with analysis or overstate what Adams was trying to do but I do think Mostly Harmless and the other Hitchhikers’ books are more than mere light entertainment. Mostly Harmless is wildly entertaining and it is extremely well-written, smart, witty and yes, a little grim. But if the arts are always on some level an attempt to make sense of life, the universe and everything then the comic and the tragic must inevitably meet.
Douglas Adams died in May of 2001, he was 49. I’ve often wondered what he would’ve written had he lived longer. He indicated that he might write another Hitchhikers’ book, that perhaps he might’ve liked to end the series on a happier note. A sequel to Mostly Harmless has been penned by Eoin Colfer. I haven’t read that book yet and while I probably will at some point, I can’t imagine it will be quite the same as reading Adams. At any rate, when May 2nd rolls around, I’m still reminded of picking up that book that evening in Hilo 20 years ago, the days and months afterward as I read through the series.
How to Tell a True War Story
by Ava Stewart
Ava Stewart is a student at CCSF from Santa Cruz, CA. While spending a year in a half in Tucson at the University of Arizona, she studied the works of war author Tim O’Brien during in an English class over the course of a year. Shared below is a review of one of her favorite literary pieces, “How To Tell a True War Story,” a reflective piece O’Brien wrote to illustrate the rogue beauty of the trauma and devastation he experienced during the Vietnam War.
O’Brien paints a stunning visual in “How to Tell a True War Story” that seeks to investigate the truth in war stories being told by Vietnam veterans. Whether exaggerations or fact, the narrator seeks to guide views as best as he can through his experiences in Vietnam when he was serving during the war. The narrator bases a majority of the story around the death of a close friend of his who was killed suddenly by a small land mine as he was walking in the forest of Vietnam. He follows this with other stories that occurred (or did they?) because of his passing. Continue reading “How to Tell a True War Story” by Ava Stewart
Benjamin Bac Sierra author of the novel Barrio Bushido and poet Athena Kashyap whose work has appeared in Noe Valley Voice, Spork, The Fourth River and many others will be reading this coming Monday, May 7 in Visual Arts 114. There will also be standard reading fare — an open mic as well as food and drink and a raffle. Hope to see you there.
Right on the Money: One Dollar Stories by Jessica Garrison
by Howard Brad Halverson
We met at bar in LA. She was introduced to me because I was caught conversating about Georges Bataille the night before, the hostess of the party being so taken aback by this, exclaiming in shock “someone is talking about books at my party?” She subsequently had to introduce me to her writer friend. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon and I shared my cigarettes with Jessica, rolling one for her and one for our liaison too. Ms. Garrison had such a quiet composition, placid, and let me talk at her about my ideas of writing. It was so casual the thing called networking didn’t seem to apply. But we exchanged emails, sent a few brief messages then she all but disappeared from my conscious until a year or so had lapsed and I was gutting out my inbox and stumbled across an old message for a reading she was part of. I followed the link in the email, vaguely recalling her to discover she recently published a collection of stories. One Dollar Stories is the title. I ordered a copy immediately intrigued to learn more about the aspiring author.
Continue reading Right on the Money: One Dollar Stories by Jessica Garrison
by Ayo Khensu-Ra
As I’ve noted before, the our class time has been much reduced thanks to three holidays in the early part of the semester. And in week four* we had our reading as chronicled so well by Michael…Finally we were back to a more regular class and it was much needed in the poetry group as we had only had one short session thus far. Kaylo and I are co-poetry editors and we’re joined by readers Monty and Kristine — Kristine being a late and much welcome addition to the group. We shuffled off to an empty classroom to get down to discussion. Class meets in a computer classroom which has its benefits but isn’t the most condusive to discussion. How much can I really write about talking? Probably not a whole lot. I will say that the discussion is one of the things I always find the most interesting and stimulating — talking about what works and what doesn’t in a given poem, hearing different perspectives, views I perhaps would not have come to. We got through several submissions and, excitingly, we got our first solid ‘yes’ of the semester. We did have some strong ‘maybes’ in our first session but in week five were the first we all really liked, the first pretty much assured to be going into the magazine. Of course, time was still short and while we got plenty done there was still much more to do…
And considering all there was to do, I was a tad worried during the week. It bears mentioning that we had to have a pretty good idea of what was going in by the end of class on Monday. An out-of-class meeting would’ve helped but that didn’t quite square with everyone’s schedules but Monty and I met before class and narrowed the field a bit. In class, we were joined by Steve who kindly offered to lend a hand (and read all the submissions in a day or so (90+). It was another good discussion, once again taking place in an empty room. There were plenty more ‘yeses,’ a lot of good poetry, a lot of agreement, some healthy disagreement and when time was up we had a pretty good idea of what was going in.
We also had an assignment to critique a short story and the whole class talked about the assignment and story itself (more the story than the assignment.) The class wheeled our chairs out from behind the desks and formed a circle — or perhaps more of an oval — to talk. The story was interesting from a technical standpoint, and engendered various reactions from the class.
*I am counting only weeks we have actually had class, perhaps it would be more precise to say class number five but I think week five sounds better.