The Oberlin Review

Smith’s Poetry a Bible Verse, Queer Anthem

Louise Edwards, Arts Editor

March 11, 2016

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

Slam Poet Danez Smith, hailing from St. Paul, MN, opened their performance at the Cat in the Cream Saturday with “Genesissy,” a piece that was part Bible verse, part hymn and part queer anthem. They balanced humorous lines like, “And on the tenth day, God wore a blood-red sequin body suit, dropped it low, named it Sunset,” with serious sentiments like “Jesus wept at the mirror, mourning the day his sons would shame his sons for walking a daughter’s stride.” Like a church service, Smith transitioned from reading their own recreation of the Bible to singing a mournful prayer: “I am on the battlefield for my Lord, for my Lord.” The dynamic textures of Smith’s work make it clear why Smith is a widely...

Johnson Converts Insults to Compliments in Poetry

Louise Edwards, Arts Editor

February 26, 2016

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

Editor’s note: This article contains a racial slur. Spoken word poet Janae Johnson opened her performance Saturday at the Cat in the Cream with a “basketball poem.” She filled the room with empowering lines: “She’ll be picked last, but she’ll outshoot the entire team” and “He mad — she on the sixth grade team as a fifth grader.” While slam poetry can often be emotionally draining because of its heavy themes, Johnson’s piece, which focused on the achievements of Black female athletes, set a tone of success and triumph. “She win,” the closing line of the poem, was a theme that resonated throughout the evening. Johnson herself has gained much recognition within the slam community. Original...

OSLAM Switches Focus with Love-Centric Slam

OSLAM Switches Focus with Love-Centric Slam

February 19, 2016

The night before Valentine’s Day, the Cat in the Cream filled with excited OSLAM fans. The large audience spilled onto the floor; friends huddled in from the cold with coffee and cookies. OSLAM is best known for its gripping political and emotional poetry, but the group’s Feb. 13 performance focused on love and positivity. In keeping with the romantic theme, the group also held a “Date a Poet” raffle where, for $1, audience members could win the chance to go on a friend date with their favorite...

WITS Poetry Residencies Expand

WITS Poetry Residencies Expand

December 4, 2015

Seventh-grader Leo Carter read his poem “Sequoia Trees” at the Langston Middle School poetry reading and book launch at the Cat in the Cream Monday. “So tall, it looks like they could / shishkabob the sky. So wide, / the shadow is like an eclipse / over the ground,” Carter read. His poem, part of Barbara Stadler’s class anthology, “As Deep as a Submarine Can Go,” was created in one of several 10-day residencies in sixth, seventh and eighth grade classes led by Director of Oberlin’s...

McCrae Depicts Survival, Self-Doubt Through Verse

Louise Edwards, Arts Editor

November 13, 2015

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

Director of the Creative Writing Program Kazim Ali and Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Shane McCrae gave a reading together at Afrikan Heritage House on Thursday, Nov. 5 that featured works from their new books, both published this year. McCrae, who went first, read the poem “How You Are Owned” from his book The Animal Too Big to Kill. “Growing up black white trash you grow up / knowing there are / Two kinds of white in the world one black / the / White like the crayon / You grow up calling flesh / that colors everything the color of imaginary peaches / and the white like every other white thing / Lord and the black like what your skin is like the / Black like what bad guys wear,” he read. Much of McCra...

Hong’s Language Gives Poetic Sound New Meaning

Louise Edwards, Arts editor

October 9, 2015

Filed under ARTS, Features, Literature & Poetry

Cathy Park Hong, OC ’98, opened the first poetry reading sponsored by the Creative Writing department last Friday with “Roles,” the first piece from her book Dance Dance Revolution. “Opal o opus, / behole, neon hibiscus bloom beacons! / ‘Tan Lotion Tanya’ billboard . . . she / your lucent Virgil, den I’s taka ova / as talky Virgil . . . want some tea? Some pelehuu?” she read. In a foreword to the book, Hong writes in the voice of one of her characters, a historian, who explains the context of the following poems, which are written in a new creole language created by Hong. The historian says, “In the Desert, the language is an amalgam of some three hundred languages and dialects imported into th...

Zadie Smith Lectures on Ethics of Writing

Zadie Smith Lectures on Ethics of Writing

October 2, 2015

Renowned novelist, essayist and author of short stories Zadie Smith met with loud applause from an audience in Finney Chapel at the beginning of her convocation Tuesday evening. “You don’t know what I’m going to say yet. You might hate it,” Smith responded. Yet clearly many audience members had read her work, and that was proof enough that Smith’s talk would be interesting. Theater and Africana Studies Professor Caroline Jackson Smith said that she first encountered Smith’s work when...

Duo Delivers Imaginitive, Inclusive Multimedia Performance

Louise Edwards, Arts Editor

October 2, 2015

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

Spoken word artist Alixa Garcia beatboxed on pan flute while her audience at the Cat in the Cream clapped along enthusiastically last Friday night. Pan flute music is part of Garcia’s Colombian heritage, and she played upon notions of traditional rhythm by altering the way she blew into the pipes. Naima Penniman, who performs with Garcia is the other half of spoken word duo Climbing PoeTree, danced to Garcia’s music. The multimedia performance included spoken word poetry accompanied by music, photography and video in the background. Garcia and Penniman’s interdisciplinary work focuses on themes of social justice, and the duo seeks to inspire audience members to create change within the environments and systems...

OSlam Sponsors Kai Davis to Support Poets of Color

OSlam Sponsors Kai Davis to Support Poets of Color

October 2, 2015

OSlam, Oberlin’s slam poetry team and club will welcome writer and performer Kai Davis for a night of spoken word poetry Saturday night. Davis is a Creative Writing and African-American Studies major at Temple University, and her work has been featured at the San Francisco Opera House, The Kimmel Center, The Temple Performing Arts Center and on CNN. Additionally, the young poet was crowned the National Brave New Voices Grand Slam Champion in 2011 and ranked second in the nation at the Youth...

Feature Photo: OSlam

Feature Photo: OSlam

May 8, 2015

College sophomore Annika Hansteen Izora passionately delivers a spoken word poem at OSlam’s final slam showcase. The showcase was a cumulative display of all the hard work that OSlam members have invested in creating a repertoire of moving, powerful poetry. Poets reprised old favorites and presented fresh material at the event, which took place in Third World lounge on Friday at 8 p.m. The team has emphasized the importance of giving precedence to marginalized voices, including but not limited...

Blackout Poetry Enters Classroom

Vida Weisblum, Arts Editor

April 24, 2015

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

If you like poetry and you like Pinterest, chances are you might have caught a glimpse of blackout poetry floating around on the internet. Blackout poetry refers to a form of poetry supposedly created by Newspaper Blackout creator Austin Kleon, in which poets black out words on a pre-existing page of literature — newspaper or otherwise — with marker or Sharpie, leaving only select words intact to create new meaning. Kleon, who is a New York Times bestselling author of three books including Newspaper Blackout, has spoken at organizations such as TEDx, Google and Pixar and considers himself both an artist and a poet. This trendy new poetic form is perhaps more of a visual art form than a literary one, though it ...

Vijay Seshadri, OC ’74, Salutes Oberlin in Final Convocation

Vijay Seshadri, OC ’74, Salutes Oberlin in Final Convocation

April 10, 2015

This year’s Convocation Series ended on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. with the solemn tones of Vijay Seshadri, OC ’74, reading his Pulitzer Prize– winning poetry. Born in India but raised in nearby Columbus, OH, where his father worked as a chemistry professor at Ohio State, Seshadri showed strong inclinations toward poetry and philosophy at a young age. At 16, he enrolled at Oberlin as a Math major but transitioned into Philosophy after an inspiring encounter with Pultizer Prize–winning poet Galway...

Established 1874.