The Oberlin Review

Art Departments Collaborate with Gordon Square Arts District

Nancy Roane, Staff Writer

October 14, 2011

Oberlin College’s departments of Theater, Art and Dance are collaborating with the Gordon Square Arts District located in Cleveland’s west side. Oberlin students will soon have the opportunity to get involved in art exhibitions, Winter Term projects and other artistic programs from the neighboring city of Cleveland. The Gordon Square Arts District is an initiative that has worked since 2006 to bring economic and artistic development to an area in Cleveland previously in decay. The three founding partners of GSAD are Cleveland Public Theatre, Near West Theatre and the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. With the goal of sparking economic development and job creation, the GSAD works to bring arts...

Editorial: Rushdie’s Comments Highlight Potential of Literary Thinking

The Editorial Board

October 14, 2011

“How do you write about a world that makes no sense?” Sir Salman Rushdie’s question nearly faded into the fabric of his convocation speech — partly an account of literature’s functions through history, partly a commentary on modern politics and media from an internationally meta-renowned storyteller (excuse the cheesy literary joke: one of his novels, Midnight’s Children, won the Booker of Bookers). His is a question constantly faced by journalists, but also by all literate people in this sprawling, multifaceted, globalizing society of ours. Yes, Rushdie deserves his reputation as a great figure of our times, but for anyone who has read or heard him, it’s clear that this isn’t a function of his fame...

Snaps to That: The State of Slam Poetry at Oberlin

Abby Hawkins, Arts Editor

October 14, 2011

Despite the numerous readings, workshops and special seminars held for Creative Writing students, the department's curriculum is sorely lacking in nontraditional forms of poetry, including slam — this disconnect that prevents any sort of academic dialogue with the slam scene before it could start. In Creative Writing workshops, competition and unfiltered emotion are veiled in civility and academic jargon, but the raw heart of slam lies in the immediate, uncensored audience response. If you're good, the whoops and whistles of audience members let you know you're good; if nobody's feeling you, that will be made quite apparent as well. That being said, slams at Oberlin are much more supportive than poetry clubs at large...

Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute Comes as Warm Surprise this Winter

Meghan Farnsworth, Staff Writer

October 7, 2011

History will be made during the flash-freeze that is Oberlin during Winter Term. Professional musicians, writers and students aspiring to fill the shoes of admired journalists and critics will have a chance to convene in the Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute for Music Criticism. Student writers may celebrate, or derail, the performances offered through their unique observations and impressions. With a special panel of professional music critics present, the students’ work will be judged and critiqued. This panel will consist of four esteemed music journalists: Alex Ross, critic for The New Yorker and Pulitzer Prize finalist for his book The Rest is Noise; Tim Page, professor of journalism and music at the ...

Slam Poet Anis Mojgani Inspires, Awes Fans

Eli Rose

September 23, 2011

Several student poets warmed up the stage for Anis. First was College senior Ryan Magiera, who performed a piece that zigzagged between humor and despair. Next, College junior Lexie Bean did a poem about first kisses and further kisses, and College sophomore Charlie Marks waxed poetic on fathers and sons, pinball and giving up. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for people to stand up and yell out the truth, but in this venue it was expected. Then Anis came on, sporting glasses and a somewhat scruffy beard. Once the overwhelming applause stopped, he started off the night without any stage banter; just a poem called "Closer." “I am like you,” he confessed. “Most days this world has thinned me to where I...

Spoken Word Performances Captivate

Kif Leswig, Staff Writer

April 29, 2011

Last week, the ’Sco played host to two outside Slam Poets. On April 21, Climbing Poe Tree introduced themselves as activists. Naima and Alixa, the two members of Brooklyn-based duo, draw inspiration from the urban problems of a 21st-century world. Climbing Poe Tree recite furiously physical poems about Hurricane Katrina, the prison-industrial complex and George W. Bush. There’s a melodic quality to Climbing Poe Tree’s spoken word and they went to lengths to make the event intimate. The pair redefined the ’Sco’s space by hanging banners of cloth pieced together from patches with poems written on them by fans from the stage to the bar. Buddy Wakefield writes about more personal issues, and when he performed...

Translation Symposium Stuns Monolingual Obies

Kif Leswing

April 15, 2011

Jed Deppman, head of the Comparative Literature department and organizer of Oberlin’s Ninth Annual Translation Symposium, introduced the symposium by declaring the act of translation as a “serious countercultural force.” On Thursday, April 7 in King 106, Deppman started the symposium by announcing that those present were attending the "best cultural and intellectual event we have at Oberlin," and the hearty applause of the 70 gathered students and professors affirmed proved their agreement. Sponsored by the Classics, Creative Writing and Comparative Literature departments, the symposium featured poems translated by two professors and 19 students. Culled from an open submission during first semester, the ...

English Translation of Hungarian Classic Retains Modernist Whimsy of Original

Aaron Botwick, Staff Writer

April 15, 2011

Deszö Kosztolányi’s Kornél Esti is an odd, wonderful little book. Published in 1933 at the end of Kosztolányi’s career, the novel, which just received its first English translation, nonetheless has the whimsy and imagination of a young writer emerging at the peak of the Modernist movement. Esti opens with a narrator meeting up with his old alter ego, Kornél, a troublemaker who introduced him to “all sorts of bad habits” but whose influence he has never been able to shake. The two decide, after years of separation, to write a novel together. Unfortunately, their styles seem irreconcilable: Kosztolányi favors “calm, simplicity, [and] classical images,” while Esti is partial to “restless, unti...

Exciting Rookie Writer Debuts with Open City

Aaron Botwick, Staff Writer

March 4, 2011

“And so I began to go on evening walks last fall,” begins Teju Cole’s fantastic debut novel, Open City, with a fluidity that becomes characteristic of the book: This is not a traditionally structured narrative, but an open gate into the mind of Julius, a half-Nigerian, half-German psychiatry student in Harlem. In 1995, W.G. Sebald wrote The Rings of Saturn, a kind of walking tour of East Anglia in which the narrator tries to reconstruct his relationship to the past through a series of anecdotes related to the sites he passes. Similarly in Open City, Julius finds himself presented with the “futile task of sorting” — that is, of making sense of his place in the world through his knowledge of history. The ...

Book Review: Karen Russell’s Swamplandia!

Aaron Botwick, Staff Writer

February 18, 2011

Karen Russell’s debut novel, Swamplandia!, opens with a quote from Alice in Wonderland. The King exclaims to Alice, “I only wish I had such eyes. To be able to see Nobody! And at that distance, too! Why, it’s as much as I can do to see real people, by this light!” It seems appropriate that she would invite such a comparison. Like Lewis Carroll, Russell follows her adolescent characters as they attempt to mature into adulthood while confronting a world full of the allegorically fantastic. When the book opens, Hilola Bigtree — also known by her stage name, Swamp Centaur — has just prematurely died of cancer, leaving her family of alligator wrestlers to take over the eponymous business. Unfortunately, a ...

Mathias Énard Zone’s Out with Tall Tales, a Long Train Ride and a Failed Desire to Change History

Aaron Botwick

February 11, 2011

Almost 150 pages into Mathias Énard’s Zone, his protagonist, Francis Mirkovic, remembers the point in his life when he stopped reading “adventure novels” and, because of his exposure to Joseph Conrad, began reading “simply novels.” It is a slight point that is quickly dismissed for a new subject, but the comparison between Énard and Conrad is a valuable one: like Heart of Darkness or The Secret Agent, Zone is a modernist novel that occupies itself with extraordinary subjects, one that combines a low-brow genre with high-brow prose. Conrad’s technique distinguishes him from other famous modernists like Joyce or Proust, who would transform the ordinary into the epic by examining the lives of their...

Crispin Hellion Glover Shows Latest Work

Aaron Botwick

December 4, 2009

On Saturday, Nov. 21, Crispin Hellion Glover appeared in West Lecture Hall. The room was pitch-black except for a single red-tinted spotlight on his face. Without introduction, Glover began to present his “BIG SLIDE SHOW,” a collection of books from the 1800s that he rewrote for a one-hour dramatic performance. Delivered entirely with a straight face, this hilarious show chronicles a series of phantasmagoric stories featuring narrators who sound like raving madmen out of a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. By combining half-finished sentences with dissonant but eerie photographs, the books written by Glover play out as if they were fragments of dreams that David Lynch might have had long ago. One of his books, Studies...

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