The Oberlin Review

Hong’s Language Gives Poetic Sound New Meaning

Louise Edwards, Arts editor

October 9, 2015

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

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

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...

Mudd Library’s Special Collections and Letterpress Thrive Thanks to Vermue

Mudd Library’s Special Collections and Letterpress Thrive Thanks to Vermue

April 3, 2015

Ed Vermue and I failed to acknowledge one another as we impatiently brushed past in the hallway before whirling in a simultaneous double-take, recognition arriving just a second too late. I had caught him miderrand, and rather than pop back into his office (for reasons I discovered later), we settled into a pair of comfortably cushioned chairs in the hallway just outside of the Special Collections on the fourth floor of Mudd library.   Between a row of blue lockers and the wall of windows...

On the Record with Bad Writing Organizers Srijit Ghosh and Paris Gravely

Vida Weisblum, Arts Editor

December 12, 2014

College seniors Paris Gravely and Srijit Ghosh joined forces to organize a celebratory weekend of poetry titled Bad Writing, in which they brought poets Jaswinder Bolina, Tarfia Faizullah and Richard Siken to campus. The two Creative Writing majors shared their experiences in putting together the student-centric event. So, what was the impetus for hosting the Bad Writing event this weekend? Were you urged by faculty to do this? Srijit Ghosh: [Paris Gravely and I] wanted to bring some poets to campus because we really felt like there wasn’t enough programing coming from the students. Faculty bring poets; Kazim [Ali, Creative Writing department chair] brings a bunch of famous people [to Oberlin], but very in...

Creative Writing Students Mentor Young Poets

Liam McLean, Staff Writer

December 5, 2014

“I was told to write a love poem. I have a try and hope you like it,” seventh-grader Emma Comings read into the microphone on the Cat in the Cream stage, beginning her unassuming but gorgeously lyrical love poem “Sorry, I Tried.” Comings was one of 100 sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students from Langston Middle School who collaborated with Oberlin students in Creative Writing 450: Teaching Imaginative Writing, where they explored, wrote and published poetry. She was one of the 48 students who shared their poems in the packed Cat in the Cream this past Monday as part of the Langston Middle School Poetry Celebration. “I was so scared that people were going to judge me for my poem, because it wasn’t...

Creative Writing Alumni Visit Oberlin For Flawed Yet Enjoyable Fiction Reading

Aviva Blonder, Staff Writer

November 21, 2014

According to Edan Lepucki, OC ’02, it was the “apotheosis of achievement” to return to campus and read aloud from her latest novel alongside fellow Oberlin graduate Jacob Bacharach, OC ’03, Thursday, Nov. 13. Her opening remarks reflected the tone of the evening: casual, but not without significance for the returning alumni. The two Creative Writing majors returned as published authors to share what they have accomplished since graduating. Lepucki read a segment from her debut novel, California, which she described as “postapocalyptic domestic drama.” She chose a selection from the middle of the novel, and the reading suffered from the lack of context. The scene opens with the protagonist, Frida, washing ...

Feature Photo: Slam Poetry Duo Performs at Cat

Feature Photo: Slam Poetry Duo Performs at Cat

November 7, 2014

Sister Outsider, the slam poetry stage name of Dominique Christina and Denice Frohman, performed at the Cat in the Cream on Sunday as part of a tour of U.S. colleges. Both performers are recent winners of the Women of the World Poetry Slam competition and have won numerous other titles throughout their prolific careers. Christina and Frohman have found their niche in the overlap between the arts and social activism; the duo regularly speaks at universities and other community centers to raise awareness...

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