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...

Poetry Promotes Honesty, Reveals Feelings

CJ Blair, Columnist

February 26, 2016

Filed under Columns, OPINIONS

“Poetry is more than just words in a strange order, CJ.” These were the words of my uncle, a well-known poet in my hometown, after reading my earliest attempts at poetry. I had written a handful of poems in high school but didn’t start writing in earnest until I decided to try and enter Oberlin’s Creative Writing program. To prepare myself, I started reading and writing poems for at least an hour a day. I had no intention of liking poetry, but I found that practicing it necessitates a way of thinking that was more honest and sobering than any I had tried before. Because of this, I realized I had to keep writing poetry to better understand my emotions and myself. It makes sense that my uncle made the commen...

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...

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 ...

Creative Writing Students Mentor Young Poets

Liam McLean, Staff Writer

December 5, 2014

Filed under ARTS, Features, Literature & Poetry

“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...

Feature Photo: Karuta Workshop

Feature Photo: Karuta Workshop

November 14, 2014

Slam poetry may be familiar to many at Oberlin, but what about speed poetry? The Oberlin College East Asian Game Club partnered with the University of Michigan Kyogi Karuta Club to present a seminar on the lightning fast traditional Japanese game of poetry and memory: Karuta. The two-day workshop took place in the Carnegie Building’s Root Room on Saturday and at the University of Michigan the following day. Mutsumi Stone, the guest of honor, explained the game’s history and rules before inviting...

Alt Lit Poets Contrast Deadpan Delivery with Raw Content

Alt Lit Poets Contrast Deadpan Delivery with Raw Content

October 31, 2014

“My desire to meticulously catalog all of my relationships in writing is more important to me than the relationship itself,” said Mira Gonzalez, reading from her essay “Why You Don’t Want to Date Me” at a reading at the Cat in the Cream Tuesday night, delivering frank disclaimers to any hypothetical suitors in the reasonably sized crowd. The Los Angeles-based writer is one of four women headlining the Marry, Fuck, Kill (Cuddle) reading tour sponsored by the independent non-profit press Sh...

Shane McCrae Debuts Vulnerable Poetry Collection

Shane McCrae Debuts Vulnerable Poetry Collection

September 12, 2014

In a charming office of the iconic Yellow House on Tuesday morning, Shane McCrae, Oberlin’s newest assistant professor of Creative Writing, asks if it would be all right if he ate string cheese during his interview. An unconventional breakfast, perhaps, but one expects nothing less from an addition to one of the quirkiest departments on campus. His public introduction was no less engrossing: McCrae read selections from his most recent compilation of beautifully violent poetry, Forgiveness Forgiveness, in Hallo...

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