The Oberlin Review

‘Dear Committee Members’ Pokes Fun at Academic Hierarchy

‘Dear Committee Members’ Pokes Fun at Academic Hierarchy

April 15, 2016

Professor of Creative Writing Dan Chaon introduced fiction writer Julie Schumacher, OC ’81, with great pride Wednesday. Chaon informed the audience that Schumacher’s first published story, “Reunion,” was written to fulfill an undergraduate creative writing assignment at Oberlin before it was reprinted in The Best American Short Stories of 1983. When Schumacher approached the podium, she reminisced about her time at Oberlin, noting how much more beautiful it was than she remembered. Suppress...

Student Translators Face Ethical, Lexical Challenges

Julia Peterson, Production Editor

April 1, 2016

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

The Annual Student Translation Symposium, a celebration of language, culture and the art of communicating, allows students to present their original translations and give short talks on their personal translation processes. It has taken place at Oberlin every year for more than a decade. This year, the Translation Symposium will be hosted Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. in Craig Lecture Hall. University of Michigan Professor Benjamin Paloff will deliver the keynote lecture, “The Universal Translator,” on Thursday, April 7, at the same time and place. “It’s a gathering for translators of all kinds, people interested in foreign languages,” said double-degree senior Aaron Wolff, who will be presenting two poems translated...

Nautical Poetry Tells Tale of Hurricane Sandy

Matías Berretta, Staff Writer

April 1, 2016

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

Chair of the Creative Writing Program Kazim Ali began a poetry reading by Margaret Ross and Robin Beth Schaer on March 10 by asking those in attendance if they recognized the metrical pattern of the radiator’s rhythmic banging — a trochaic beat. This was a fitting observation, as both Ross and Schaer’s work draws on the rhythm of their experiences. Shane McCrae, assistant professor of Creative Writing, giddily introduced Margaret Ross. McCrae confessed that when he met Ross at a workshop with Jorie Graham at Harvard University, he experienced the kind of jealousy a poet feels when they meet a 19-year-old who’s better than they were at the same age. McCrae lauded Ross as a genius, insisting that hers was the ...

Multimedia Poet Taps into Subconscious Realms

Multimedia Poet Taps into Subconscious Realms

March 11, 2016

Poetry has long existed as a multimedia art form. Homeric poems, for example, used to be performed with musical accompaniment. The relationship between poetry and other art forms was evident last Thursday in Dye Lecture Hall when New York-based performance poet Adeena Karasick wowed the students present with nothing but her voice, a projector and a glitchy microphone. Kazim Ali, chair of the Creative Writing department, introduced Karasick as a multi-genre artist working at the intersection of performance...

Visiting Professor Celebrates Bird Hill Release

Visiting Professor Celebrates Bird Hill Release

March 11, 2016

The Creative Writing and Africana Studies departments hosted Visiting Creative Writing Professor Naomi Jackson on Feb. 25. She read excerpts from her newly published book The Star Side of Bird Hill. The book, a coming-of-age novel that moves from Brooklyn to Barbados, was characterized by Jackson as “a meditation on the ways in which family can be really good and really terrible, sometimes in the same moment.” The book touches on, among other things, assimilation into a multiplicity of Black...

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...

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