Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Love Letter to Arts Journalism: Farewell from Arts Editor

Oh, how beautiful it is to have something to miss. 

First and foremost, I wanted to say thank you to anyone who has ever read any of my stories in the Review and enjoyed them. If you’re reading this now, you are one of the reasons why I write. If you’re just now getting acquainted with me through this piece, I’m sorry that we haven’t had more time together, but allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lucy; I’m one of the Arts & Culture Editors here at the Review. I also work with COUNTERCLOCK Journal and work on the Live Coverage/Music Review team for Off the Record Press. Over the last couple of years, writing arts journalism — specifically arts reviews — has become one of my greatest joys. And I owe every gratitude to the Review for giving me a running start.

For the first couple years of my college experience, The Oberlin Review was this lofty, mysterious concept of a newspaper to me. I knew what it was, but the people who ran it felt so removed and distant from myself. The closest association I had to it was when College fourth-year Andrea Nguyen (our graduating Sports Editor) asked me for an interview, and I never actually followed up with her. I never assumed working at the Review would be something I would be capable of doing. Initially, I ran on the varsity track and field team and I loved it, and couldn’t see myself doing anything else outside of athletics. I still look back on my first couple of years quite fondly.

However, there came a time in the middle of my third year where I realized that track just wasn’t scratching the itch for me anymore, so to speak. After running (and winning) at NCAC conference championships, I felt like I’d accomplished everything I’d wanted to, and I was ready to try something new. I knew I wanted to do something related to writing; I am a Creative Writing major and wanted to work on honing my skills and preparing for my career more. I saw that the Review was hiring an Arts & Culture editor in the spring of 2023, and I figured I’d throw my hat in the ring. The worst that could happen was that they’d say no. 

I bet you think they said yes. Psych! They did not, and I don’t blame them, I had virtually no qualifications other than being a good writer. But, I am forever grateful to my past self for applying despite having no faith I’d receive the position, as well as the past Arts & Culture editor, College second-year Dlisah Lapidus. After I applied, Dlisah reached out to me and said she liked my writing, and encouraged me to write for the Review as a Staff Writer. 

My first assignment was covering the first student-run open mic night at Azariah’s Café. I was nervous; I had no idea how to approach people for interviews and had never written a reported piece before. I didn’t even record the interviews with students, I just took written notes. But I realized that I enjoyed writing articles, and was determined to familiarize myself with journalistic practices. 

I really fell in love when I was sent to cover a play that semester called Stonewallin’. I got to attend an invited dress rehearsal and write a review-style piece. The experience of seeing a play before it officially began was so cool to me, and I found the style of writing appealing. I applied to be a Senior Staff Writer going into fall 2023, and was thrilled when I was offered the position of editor instead. 

Once again, my first day on the job I was incredibly anxious. Imposter syndrome was hitting me hard. I won’t lie, the first week was filled with stress. There was so much I needed to learn practically instantly, and there was a lot of work to be done. As an editor, I not only write my own pieces, but I help edit about five others during production on Wednesday and Thursday nights, as well as a multitude of other logistical tasks. I have spent many long hours in the office. 

But during those long hours, I found community. Some of my most fond memories of college will be Taylor Swift listening parties at midnight, ranting about whatever happened in our days before work, and even pulling together a piece at the last minute because something else fell through. Going to work never felt like going to work, it felt like hanging out with my friends. 

My senior staff team supported me in my visions for the Arts section — previously, we hadn’t published as many review-style pieces. However, my dream is to write music reviews, and I also think there is something to be said for giving students in general a platform to share their thoughts on art. We are a campus full of people making and consuming art; students should have the ability to speak on that. 

I started to write music reviews consistently for the Review, covering shows I went to and albums I had thoughts on. In the spring, I applied for the position at Off the Record Press and was accepted. I don’t want to delude anyone, it’s not a full-time job (it doesn’t pay), but it’s one of the coolest opportunities I’ve ever had. I get to go to shows with a press pass, write about them, and listen to albums and singles ahead of their release date, all while building up a portfolio. It’s a thrilling position. 

You may think that I’m just rambling about myself, which is not entirely wrong, but I’m doing it because I want to show that it’s possible to start with nothing but some distant hopes and end up doing exactly what you dreamed of. Don’t ever feel like you’re behind or not good enough. Just start chipping away at your goals, a little at a time. Four years ago at the beginning of college, I would never have seen myself ending up here. I am so thankful for the Review for allowing me my start at what is hopefully a long, exciting career in music journalism. And for everyone who’s reading this — write for us! We’d love to hear your thoughts on anything related to the arts, both in Oberlin and beyond.

Lucy Curtis

More to Discover