The Oberlin Review

On the Record: Steve Roggenbuck

On the Record: Steve Roggenbuck

March 14, 2014

This past Saturday, poet Steve Roggen­buck, renowned for his use of the Internet to create a new form of poetry and relation­ship with an audience, held a workshop and poetry reading in Oberlin. As soon as he arrived in Oberlin, the Review sat down with him in DeCafé to ask him about the Internet as an artistic realm of expression, building a readership and making a living as a poet. Why did you choose the Internet as a medium for sharing your poetry? I like the Internet because it reaches p...

McBride Pays Homage to Abolitionist John Brown

McBride Pays Homage to Abolitionist John Brown

March 7, 2014

To call James McBride, OC ’79, a writer is to capture only a small fraction of what the man is capable of. While his 1995 memoir The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother spent over two years on the New York Times bestseller list and his most recent novel, 2013’s The Good Lord Bird, won the National Book Award, McBride is also a prolific musician and an award-winning composer. Fortunately for fans of music and the written word, both of McBride’s exceptional talents were on disp...

Subtlety and Detail Define Traci Brimhall Reading

Mary Fischer

February 14, 2014

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

In spite of the long list of awards and fellowships she has received, including the Barnard Women Poets Prize in 2011 and the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry in 2013, poet Traci Brimhall’s reading in King last Monday revealed a writer very humble and sincere, unaffected by success. As a candidate for a new position in Oberlin’s Creative Writing Department, Brimhall read a range of works and shared her creative process with a small audience of students and faculty, but never gave the impression of wanting to impress, a quality that also came through in her poetry.   Brimhall’s reading began with a few poems from one of her latest works, Our Lady of the Ruins, which tells of journe...

Poetry Reading Showcases Cooperation Between College Students and City Schools

Logan Buckley, Staff Writer

December 6, 2013

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

“I believe this is what they call a capacity crowd,” said Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Lynn Powell to a packed house at the Cat in the Cream on Monday night. The crowd, which was composed of all ages and left little room even to stand, had gathered to hear poems written by Langston Middle School students. The poems were written during residencies with College students — both Creative Writing majors and non-majors with strong interests in writing — in Powell’s Teaching Imaginative Writing course. During the first half of the semester, students in the course studied pedagogy and practiced designing lessons and writing exercises. In the second half of the semester, they worked in pairs with...

First OSlam! Open Mic Showcases Young Poetic Talent

Ruby Saha

November 22, 2013

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

A profoundly personal art form, effective slam poetry relies on the performer’s ability to draw stories from deep within themselves, requiring an incredible amount of resilience and courage. OSlam!, Oberlin’s newest slam poetry group, seeks to create a space where poetry can be accessible and shared in a safe and interactive environment, as it did at its Open Mic Night at the Cat in the Cream on Monday. Composed of first- and second-year students, the group performed to a large and enthusiastic crowd who remained engaged throughout the night, snapping their fingers along to particularly clever or powerful wordplay. OSlam!’s first major event of the year alternated between performances by its members and talented...

Oberlin Alumna Academizes Comics as Contemporary Literature

Grace Pullin

November 15, 2013

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry, Visual Art

Professor Hillary Chute of the University of Chicago gave an illuminating presentation last Thursday on a topic that was perhaps untraditional for the English Department. As part of the Oberlin Lectures in English & American Literature series, Chute discussed her personal and professional history with graphic narratives, the term she prefers to the common misnomer “graphic novel.” Aside from Chute’s anecdotes and interesting insights into the world of comics, the lecture directly addressed her field’s at times uneasy and often questioned position within the discipline of English, as well its general place within the formal academic sphere.   Throughout the lecture, Chute contextualized her study of t...

Touring Poets Work to Create Safer Space at the Cat

Nora Kipnis

November 1, 2013

Filed under ARTS, Features, Features, Literature & Poetry, NEWS

“We have an uncensored microphone and if you come up here, you can say whatever you want because it’s freedom of speech. But if you say something that hurts somebody, then please be prepared to have a non-defensive conversation with them.”   This is how Greg McKillop began the slam poetry session of the Safer Space Tour on Oct. 14 at the Cat in the Cream. The Safer Space Tour was organized by College senior Alyssa Civian and sponsored by Lambda Union, a safe space for LGBTQ students at Oberlin. Three poets from the organization, Gregory McKillop, Arwyn Sherman and Matthew Wellman, came to Oberlin on their way to a poetry slam in Spokane, WA, to run a workshop and performance.   The Safer Space To...

Budding Poet Demonstrates True Talent at Joint Reading

Logan Buckley, Staff Writer

October 11, 2013

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

“I’ve been walking south for many nights now, / Heading south in Bangladesh / Where the sea churns / Into a hundred deltas / And the landscape looks like a rotting nail.” So begins Zubair Ahmed’s debut poetry collection, City of Rivers. That poem was also the one he chose to open the reading he gave last Thursday in Wilder 101 alongside fellow poet Jean Valentine, telling that audience that the poem “encompasses what [the] book is about… a journey to find home.” The poem is characteristic of the book in other ways, too — the quiet tone and pastoral imagery interrupted and disturbed by the carefully selected image of “a rotting nail” introduce a technique used throughout the book wherein famili...

Roche Returns to Share Poetic Music, Oberlin Anecdotes

Nora Kipnis

October 4, 2013

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry, Music

“Is that bothering you guys?” singer-songwriter Lucy Wainwright Roche, OC ’03, slyly asked in her feather-light voice, as she stood in red leather boots and tuning a guitar with a borrowed strap on the Cat in the Cream stage last Thursday. The audience laughed, and it was unclear when exactly she stopped talking and started singing: “Why not put all our doubts behind us / We’ve got Brooklyn at its finest.” In celebration of the release of her sophomore album, There’s a Last Time for Everything, on Oct. 15, Roche drove to Oberlin from New York to play a reunion concert of sorts at her alma mater. “Pennsylvania, man. It’s too bad about that,” she said in a knowing voice after her first song, and al...

Powell and Glaser Flex Poetic Muscles at Reading

Logan Buckley, Staff Writer

October 4, 2013

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry, Uncategorized

The Main Street Readings series featured an unusual treat this weekend, as Oberlin Professor of Creative Writing Lynn Powell and her friend and fellow poet Elton Glaser read from their new work in the FAVA Gallery. Glaser, distinguished professor emeritus of English at the University of Akron, read from two books of poetry he published this year, Translations from the Flesh and The Law of Falling Bodies. Powell read “new and new-ish” poems from a collection with the working title A Scherzo for Sadness. As Powell stepped up to the podium to read, she described her recent work as “trying to sidle my way back to poetry,” after having spent the past several years at work on a nonfiction book called Framing Innoc...

America Libre Author Discusses Work, Cultural Stereotypes

Logan Buckley

September 27, 2013

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

“The origins of any political revolution parallel the beginnings of life on our planet. The amino acids and proteins lie inert in a volatile primordial brew until a random lightning strike suddenly brings them to life.” This foreboding quote, attributed to José Antonio Marcha, begins Raul Ramon y Sanchez’s debut novel America Libre, which was published in 2009 as the first volume of a trilogy. The sequels, House Divided and Pancho Land, followed in 2011 and 2012. It’s certainly indicative of what is to come: The novels tell the story of a Latino family in Los Angeles in a near-future United States where debates over immigration become toxic and racism toward Latinos and Latinas leads to violent conflict. The...

Nuanced Poetry Addresses Nuclear Issues

Logan Buckley, Staff Writer

September 20, 2013

Filed under ARTS, Literature & Poetry

Washington State Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken hosted a reading on Tuesday in Wilder 101 of her latest collection of poems, Plume, published last year. The poems in Plume, which Flenniken said started as “a few poems about growing up” that she couldn’t stop writing, center thematically on the Hanford Nuclear Site. Hanford is the site of the first full-scale plutonium reactor in the world and is also where the plutonium was manufactured for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Lyric and expressive, Flenniken’s poems explore the new moral dilemmas and failures of the atomic age and the human and environmental costs of the nuclear program. Flenniken is well-suited to take on these themes. She grew up in...

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