UCI News

Putting the squeeze on Orange County

The literary journal 'Citric Acid' explores the dichotomy of OC life

by Emma McCandless and Iris Kim, UCI | August 2, 2022
Putting the squeeze on Orange County
Caption: Photograph accompanying The Sparrow in Willow by poet Linda Thomas. The poem, which celebrates Orange County fauna, describes the moment in which this photo was taken. Citric Acid

Orange County is many things to many people. To some, a family home or an escape from the big city. To others, a street corner filled with culture rich foods. It can be a place of beauty with sprawling oceans and desert plants, or a place of imperfection – clashing political views and a shocking, violent history. Capturing this dichotomy, the literary journal Citric Acid: An Online Orange County Literary Arts Quarterly of Imagination and Reimagination is a collection in which writers and artists share pieces on both realistic and fantastical perspectives of Orange County.

The masthead logo of Citric Acid, created by writer and artist Garrett Saleen, celebrates joyful struggle, in its both ironic and stubbornly exuberant reimagining of the mythic tale of Sisyphus laboring to push an orange, the County’s totemic namesake, up a mountain.

The masthead logo of Citric Acid, created by writer and artist Garrett Saleen, celebrates joyful struggle, in its both ironic and stubbornly exuberant reimagining of the mythic tale of Sisyphus laboring to push an orange, the County’s totemic namesake, up a mountain.

This summer marks the release of the third issue of Citric Acid on Aug. 1. Founded by editor, author and retired UCI English lecturer Andrew Tonkovich, Citric Acid embraces a commitment to advancing the work of both established and emerging regional talent, including that of historically underrepresented writers and artists. In the editor’s note, Tonkovich elaborates on this season’s contents:

“This issue is big on poetry, with stylistically diverse and engaging representation. Our third issue presents original writing, art and photography from new friends as well as longtime literary comrades.”

The featured artists include Camouflage from the Neighborhood author and UCI English lecturer Lorene Delany-Ullman’s immersive poem on climate change; poetry by Jax NTP, exploring late-night questions about youth and the creative process; and short fiction by award-winning local writer Jaime Campbell about family bonds, racial identity and the responsibilities attached to fertility and womanhood.

Other contributors include Eric Rangno, previously published in The Atlantic and the Santa Monica Review, who depicts the thoughts of a couple spending the night in a motel near an In-N-Out Burger. Also featured is Los Angeles Times columnist and former OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano’s commencement address to the 2022 UCI School of Social Ecology, photography by celebrated Mexican American artist William Camargo, poetry by UCI creative writing alumna Linda Thomas, and two culturally critical comics illustrated by Nathan Cayanan and Grant Hoskins. 

Citric Acid’s fourth issue will be released in January 2023. Past issues are available on the official website. Additional information about the quarterly can be found on the official Facebook and Instagram pages.

Emma McCandless is a fourth-year English major and Iris Kim is a third-year English major at UCI. They are Citric Acid interns.