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“Come, consider another song, come and see…”

         --- Orange County Poet Laureate Natalie Graham


Welcome to the inaugural issue of Citric Acid. Or, if you prefer --- and you don’t really have a choice for now ---, online and virtual but doing its best to be real, urgent, and inviting. 


This journal arrives just in time, or at least on time, responding to any number of urgent crises, struggles and opportunities. Take your pick --- pandemic, social, political --- and you will find creative responses to at least one of those in this issue. 


So, yes, there’s a need for a literary arts quarterly from and about Orange County, California at our particular moment. Happily, that need is also answered in a just-published landmark book offered in the tradition of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, its arrival further motivation, inspiration, and opportunity.  


I am indeed especially grateful for the opportunity to launch this online literary journal with a fan’s celebration of A People’s Guide to Orange County, here via a lead essay composed by all three of its editors. Citric Acid means to embrace and emulate that book’s ethos and spirit, and recommends you purchase a copy or ten. 


This issue includes thirteen pieces, total --- presented beautifully by managing editor Jaime Campbell --- featuring poetry from four celebrated regional poets with national reputations, three of them current or past area poets laureate and one a legendary breakthrough writer/activist/educator/public intellectual, celebrated by Marilyn Chin as "one of the great matriarchs of Asian American literarature."  The available laudatory adjectives describing the respective works of these four poets are both interchangeable and specific, and their art, commitments and visions together guide the editorial imperative of this journal.  Thanks, then, to Mitsuye Yamada, Natalie Graham, Grant Hier and Tina Mai. 


Mary Camarillo, author of a new novel set in Huntington Beach (The Lockhart Women) delivers a poem too, this one reconsidering received history and who writes it. Go figure! Novelist Victoria Patterson (This Vacant Paradise), heralded by some (especially me) as “the Edith Wharton of Orange County,” generously shares a darkly insightful memoir set in and against Newport Beach, and not just for laughs. In-house comics artist Grant Hoskins provokes, appropriately, with a shot (forgive me) at both problematic pandemic public health policy and disingenuous adult behavior, by way of both COVID and reliable McCarthyite political redux. Fullerton Observer editor and community arts activist Jesse La Tour interrogates a particularly creative period of his town in his personal history of The Art Colony. Multi-talented writer and Irvine Valley College professor Lisa Alvarez debuts a politically resonant, to put it mildly, short story. Edward Fowler offers a moving and evocative memoir excerpt connecting person to place love. Citric Acid Advisory Board member and community arts activist Sarah Rafael Garcia demands more, much more, of the expectations of the arts establishment. Finally, your (un)humble editor introduces --- and, for a few readers and longtime residents, perhaps reintroduces --- the life and wonderous work of a mentor to me and many: the late Laguna Beach activist, artist, writer and CSULB professor Peter Carr.        

Citric Acid will in the coming weeks share more work, and alert you to its appearance via email newsletter and social media. Please engage the “Subscribe” button. We’ll practice a hybrid publication protocol, going live with most of each issue to start, then supplementing in subsequent weeks to provide a total of about a dozen pieces, total, each quarter. Our first issue is now complete! Expect Issue #2 in April. 

Citric acid is an organic compound with the chemical formula. HOC(CO2H)(CH2CO2H)2. It is a colorless weak organic acid. It occurs naturally in citrus fruits. In biochemistry, it is an intermediate in the citric acid cycle, which occurs in the metabolism of all aerobic organisms.  


So reports Wikipedia.  Citric acid is also good for you. So is Citric Acid. Try some. Thanks.

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