The Oberlin Review

Poet, editor, and assistant professor of English at Cleveland State University Caryl Pagel reads to an audience in Wilder Hall. Pagel came to Oberlin Wednesday to give a poetry reading in which she debuted several new works.

Second-Person Prevails in Pagel’s Occult, Political Poetry

May 5, 2017

There is something haunting about Caryl Pagel’s poetry — and it’s not just the gravestones that frequently appear in her work. Pagel’s writing is heavily steeped in the occult and references to Gothic literature, which she weaves into poetry that is both lyrical and feminist. In addition to having authored two collections of poetry, 2014’s Twice Told and 2012’s Experiments I Should Like Tried At My Own Death, Pagel is also the co-founder and editor of Rescue Press, a poetry editor at j...

Poetry Picks

Poetry Picks

April 14, 2017

Tamil Sri Lankan trans artist D’Lo will return to the Cat in the Cream Sunday evening with his
touring show D’FaqTo Life.

Intersectional Comedian D’Lo Brings Variety Show to Oberlin

February 24, 2017

A unique blend of stand-up comedy, poetry and storytelling awaits guests at the Cat in the Cream Sunday as actor and comedian D’Lo brings his touring variety show, D’FaQTo Life (pronounced “de facto”) to Oberlin. The show will be his first in Oberlin since 2013, when he performed as part of Colors of Rhythm, and he’s since gone on to perform roles in HBO’s Looking and the Netflix original series Sense8. Co-sponsored by the South Asian Students Association, International Students’ Organi...

College senior Sarah Chatta performs at Slow Train
for Love in Many Tongues, a multilingual poetry
reading organized each year by the Oberlin Center
for Languages and Cultures to celebrate Valentine’s

Slow Train Hosts Romantic Annual Multilingual Poetry Event

February 17, 2017

Some say that love is a universal language. This idea was explored Monday evening at Love in Many Tongues, a multilingual poetry reading at Slow Train Cafe. The Oberlin Center for Languages and Cultures organizes Love in Many Tongues each year as a way to promote the dozen languages offered at Oberlin — as well as others not offered — while simultaneously celebrating Valentine’s Day. Oberlin students, faculty and community members read poems and sang songs in a wide array of languages — r...

College senior Dana Fang won the Creative Writing department’s Emma Howell Memorial Poetry Contest this year. They are the first femme of color and the first Asian American to win the $1,000 prize.

Fang First Femme of Color to Win Howell Poetry Prize

May 6, 2016

College senior Dana Fang won this year’s annual Emma Howell Memorial Poetry Contest, awarded by Oberlin’s Creative Writing department. Fang is both the first femme of color and the first Asian-American poet to win the prize, which honors Creative Writing and Comparative Literature major Emma Howell, an Oberlin student who died during her sophomore year in 2001. Howell’s father, poet Christopher Howell, judges the submissions along with Creative Writing professors, and the winner is awarded...

Nautical Poetry Tells Tale of Hurricane Sandy

Matías Berretta, Staff Writer

April 1, 2016

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 ...

Adeena Karasick, who presented her poetry in Dye Lecture Hall last Thursday, blurs the boundaries between pop culture and academia in her multimedia performances. Her work draws on spiritual and mystical traditions and depends heavily on sonic elements of poetry.

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...

Smith’s Poetry a Bible Verse, Queer Anthem

Louise Edwards, Arts Editor

March 11, 2016

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

“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...

College junior and OSLAM member Misaël Syldor presents a slam poem at the Cat in the Cream Saturday. OSLAM’s Valentine’s Day-themed performance focused on feminism and relationships.

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...

Sixth-grader Tnadja Williams reads her poem “Grandmother” from Eileen Hickerson’s and Nicholas Sakola’s class anthology, “Put Your Attitude into Space,” at the Cat in the Cream. The event featured Langston Middle School students reading poems written in classes led by Writers-in-the-Schools Director Lynn Powell and
College students in the Teaching Imaginative Writing workshop.

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

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...

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