The Oberlin Review

Lyric Narrative through Sound and Movement: An Evening with Julie Carr

Taia Kwinter

December 7, 2012

In an excerpt of prose poetry titled Pity, Pride and Shame, Julie Carr describes the act of a person rubbing his or her eyes, softly stating that with this repeated action, “the person has left the room, has refused, in leaving, to enter any other room.” This image is striking in its full emotional quality and action-based description; it does not use visual signifiers to create the mental scene, yet a potent version is instantly created in the listener's mind. Carr, who read selections of her work aloud in Wilder on Dec. 3, draws on personal experience to create these evocative scenes. Before becoming a full-time poet, Carr lived and worked in New York City for a decade as a dancer. There she was one of the co-founders...

Anna Deavere Smith: “Shine a Light Through Broken Hearts”

Matthew Sprung, Staff Writer

October 12, 2012

Award-winning actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith spoke and performed in front of a full Finney Chapel as part of Oberlin College’s annual Convocation series last Saturday, Oct. 6. Best known for her one-woman plays Fires in the Mirror and Twilight: Los Angeles, both of which she wrote and starred in, Smith crafts material strictly from personally conducted interviews that illuminate social and political issues in America. Having recently broken her toe, Ms. Smith apologized for her footwear, but joked that she felt “right at home at Oberlin in Birkenstocks.” She went on to portray the characters and people she has interviewed, transcending the stage with her commanding and authentic performance. Fires...

Story Time with Dan Chaon Delights a Full Audience

Madeline Raynor

September 28, 2012

“We’re glad we had such a big turnout, but we’re not surprised.” These were the opening remarks of Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Lynn Powell as she welcomed her colleague Dan Chaon to the stage for his reading this past Sunday night. She was no doubt referring to both the popularity of the Creative Writing major at Oberlin and the packed audience at Slow Train, which teemed with students taking a study break and the familiar faces of Creative Writing students and faculty. Even Marvin Krislov attended, watching from a coveted seat at the counter. Dan Chaon, Delaney Associate Professor of Creative Writing and published author, was a finalist for the National Book Award for his short story...

Peter Neil Carroll’s Poetry Proves Confrontational, Tear-Jerking

Matthew Sprung

September 28, 2012

Sometimes we may need to take the unwelcome yet eye-opening bite into the raw onion of American history. On Thursday, writer, historian and poet Peter Neil Carroll walked into a room in the Science Center to find a warm and accepting audience. Carroll — who wasn’t published as a poet until 2008 — has written and edited 17 history books, including Keeping Time: Memory, Nostalgia, and the Art of History. The talk, titled “Poetry as History: Lost Places in America,” focused on and included readings of poems from A Child Turns Back to Wave: Poetry of Lost Places, for which Carroll won this year’s Prize Americana for Poetry from the Institute for the Study of American Popular Culture. In his work, Carroll engages...

Lauded Poet Mojgani Entertains Packed Cat

Willa Rubin

September 21, 2012

The Oberlin College community came out in droves to the Cat in the Cream last Saturday night to see slam poet Anis Mojgani, packing the entire venue with the sweaty bodies of poetry enthusiasts. Some were lucky enough to grab a table or a spot on a lumpy couch with friends, but plenty of less fortunate fans waited just outside the door, hoping to be let into the already overcrowded coffeehouse. Improvised overflow seating included comfy patches of floor on the stage itself, as fans encircled poet Anis Mojgani physically and with their rapt attention. Associate Professor of Creative Writing Kazim Ali opened for Mojgani without having had much time to prepare, but he still captivated the audience with his performance....

Slam Poet Inspires Self-Love, World Change at the Cat

Julia Hubay, Arts Editor

May 4, 2012

As people began to stream into Sonya Renee’s performance at the Cat last Saturday, every chair was quickly filled, and even the floor was packed before the poet and activist began. The evening kicked off with an open mike show featuring some talented students, and then at 9 p.m. Renee took the stage dressed in a vibrant, citrus-colored dress and perched atop six inch coral heels. She began by establishing an informal rapport with the audience, joking about the weather and the inappropriateness of her showing up to the Cleveland airport in sandals and a sundress. Then, to increase the energy in the room, Renee had the audience participate in a call-and-response session with chants about self-love and poetry. The...

Fictional Oberlin Grad Ventures to Bolivia in Semi–Autobiographical Novel

Alice Shockley, Staff Writer

April 6, 2012

Plant Teacher, a novel by Caroline Alethia published this past January, chronicles the story of a fictional Oberlin College graduate traveling in Bolivia during a time of political crisis. Although Alethia is herself a Wellesley College graduate, her experiences visiting Oberlin's campus during her own college years left her with a favorable impression of the College, inspiring the choice of her protagonist’s alma mater. A talented writer who has worked as a journalist, technical writer for the United Nations and editor for international publications, Alethia lived in Bolivia just before writing Plant Teacher. Drawing from these experiences, her novel follows the development of a relationship between two recen...

Performer Takes Risks with Social-Reformist Spoken Word at Cat

Alice Shockley, Staff Writer

March 16, 2012

Award-winning poet, actor and playwright Carlos Andrés Gómez performed a spoken word poetry production at Oberlin’s Cat in the Cream on March 12. Entering center stage, Gómez immediately captivated the crowd with his honesty and raw emotionality and kept them engaged throughout the show with his wit, passion and charisma. With his questions, stories and satirical commentary on our modern culture, Gómez succeeded in eliciting a radical reaction from the audience. Gómez began as a social worker for disabled children in the Bronx and Central Harlem, and through his work as an HIV/AIDS advocate he raised $40,000 for the cause. As a poet, Gómez has continued his involvement in these causes, using them as the building...

On the Record: Nusha Martynuk, Founder of OASIS

Kara Brooks, Arts Editor

March 2, 2012

Can you tell me a little bit about how OASIS started? In the spring of 2006, I became the director of Dance, and I was talking to the dean at the time about collaboration, teaching more collaboratively and allowing the arts to do more work of that sort. Then, in fall of 2010, it so happened that the President’s Office called a meeting with the arts chairs about a wonderful organization on the west side of Cleveland called the Gordon Square Arts District that represents a number of arts organizations which are housed in that area. Gordon Square was interested in partnering with Oberlin to say “Let’s see if we can do programming that is more educationally oriented for us,” something they don’t do and t...

Love, Actually in Translation

Kara Brooks, Arts Editor

February 17, 2012

Love has no boundaries, but, as demonstrated by the event “Love in Many Tongues,” perhaps regional boundaries would be the more appropriate term. While some Oberlin lovebirds snuggled up in love nests elsewhere, others showed up at Slow Train Cafe, where Main Street Readings presented a Valentine’s Day poetry reading featuring a diverse range of love poems. Organized by poet and Oberlin Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Lynn Powell, 14 participants were selected to read and translate poems in languages spanning the globe, both modern and ancient. While all of the poems were charming and both eloquently and skillfully delivered, the poems in the more unusual languages such as Bulgarian, Dutch,...

“Inner Peace Meets Outer Peace” Showcases Students’ Poetic Prowess

Isaac Shub, Staff Writer

November 11, 2011

On Nov. 6, a group of 30 or 40 students and faculty gathered at the Cat in the Cream to hear Oberlin’s finest do some poetic slamming at “Inner Peace Meets Outer Peace,” an event hosted by Active Minds at Oberlin and the Oberlin Peace Activists League. I sat next to College junior Aviva Maslow at a table in the Cat, and I think it is fair to consider her representative of the average audience member, if slightly more bright-eyed. Like other students in this small crowd, Maslow said she was there to support a friend, College junior and Review Arts Editor Abby Hawkins, who performed third. She declined further questions, saying, “This is about Abby, not me.” Fair enough. College senior and campus slam poe...

Lev Rosen Returns to Oberlin with Newly Published Novel

Kara Brooks, Arts Editor

November 11, 2011

On the night of Nov. 8, a modest yet devoted number of students and faculty gathered in King 106 to hear Lev A.C. Rosen, OC ’03, read passages from his work of fiction. All eyes were on Rosen as the attendees of his reading towered over him in the massive lecture hall. Nevertheless, Rosen appeared comfortable and familiar with how to perform in front of fellow Obies. Diving into his reading, Rosen perhaps proved himself too familiar as an Obie, as he gulped his water into the microphone and spoke too loudly at times. Raised in New York City, Rosen attended Oberlin and then Sarah Lawrence College, where he received his MFA in Creative Writing. His work has been featured in Esopus Magazine and various blogs...

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