The Oberlin Review

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...

Art Departments Collaborate with Gordon Square Arts District

Nancy Roane, Staff Writer

October 14, 2011

Oberlin College’s departments of Theater, Art and Dance are collaborating with the Gordon Square Arts District located in Cleveland’s west side. Oberlin students will soon have the opportunity to get involved in art exhibitions, Winter Term projects and other artistic programs from the neighboring city of Cleveland. The Gordon Square Arts District is an initiative that has worked since 2006 to bring economic and artistic development to an area in Cleveland previously in decay. The three founding partners of GSAD are Cleveland Public Theatre, Near West Theatre and the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization. With the goal of sparking economic development and job creation, the GSAD works to bring arts...

Editorial: Rushdie’s Comments Highlight Potential of Literary Thinking

The Editorial Board

October 14, 2011

“How do you write about a world that makes no sense?” Sir Salman Rushdie’s question nearly faded into the fabric of his convocation speech — partly an account of literature’s functions through history, partly a commentary on modern politics and media from an internationally meta-renowned storyteller (excuse the cheesy literary joke: one of his novels, Midnight’s Children, won the Booker of Bookers). His is a question constantly faced by journalists, but also by all literate people in this sprawling, multifaceted, globalizing society of ours. Yes, Rushdie deserves his reputation as a great figure of our times, but for anyone who has read or heard him, it’s clear that this isn’t a function of his fame...

Snaps to That: The State of Slam Poetry at Oberlin

Abby Hawkins, Arts Editor

October 14, 2011

Despite the numerous readings, workshops and special seminars held for Creative Writing students, the department's curriculum is sorely lacking in nontraditional forms of poetry, including slam — this disconnect that prevents any sort of academic dialogue with the slam scene before it could start. In Creative Writing workshops, competition and unfiltered emotion are veiled in civility and academic jargon, but the raw heart of slam lies in the immediate, uncensored audience response. If you're good, the whoops and whistles of audience members let you know you're good; if nobody's feeling you, that will be made quite apparent as well. That being said, slams at Oberlin are much more supportive than poetry clubs at large...

Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute Comes as Warm Surprise this Winter

Meghan Farnsworth, Staff Writer

October 7, 2011

History will be made during the flash-freeze that is Oberlin during Winter Term. Professional musicians, writers and students aspiring to fill the shoes of admired journalists and critics will have a chance to convene in the Stephen and Cynthia Rubin Institute for Music Criticism. Student writers may celebrate, or derail, the performances offered through their unique observations and impressions. With a special panel of professional music critics present, the students’ work will be judged and critiqued. This panel will consist of four esteemed music journalists: Alex Ross, critic for The New Yorker and Pulitzer Prize finalist for his book The Rest is Noise; Tim Page, professor of journalism and music at the ...

Slam Poet Anis Mojgani Inspires, Awes Fans

Eli Rose

September 23, 2011

Several student poets warmed up the stage for Anis. First was College senior Ryan Magiera, who performed a piece that zigzagged between humor and despair. Next, College junior Lexie Bean did a poem about first kisses and further kisses, and College sophomore Charlie Marks waxed poetic on fathers and sons, pinball and giving up. There aren’t a lot of opportunities for people to stand up and yell out the truth, but in this venue it was expected. Then Anis came on, sporting glasses and a somewhat scruffy beard. Once the overwhelming applause stopped, he started off the night without any stage banter; just a poem called "Closer." “I am like you,” he confessed. “Most days this world has thinned me to where I...

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