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...

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 ...

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...

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...

Eccentric poet Mira Gonzalez entrances audience members with a reading. A collective of poets gave a reading as part of its Marry, Fuck, Kill (Cuddle) tour Tuesday night at the Cat in the Cream.

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...

Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Shane McCrae is the department’s newest addition. McCrae gave a reading of poems from his latest collection, Forgiveness Forgiveness, to a rapturous audience of students on Wednesday in the Hallock Auditorium.

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...

(From left) College sophomore Alison Kronstadt, College sophomore B.J. Tindal, College first-year Joseph Farago, College first-year Zachariah Claypole-White, College first-year Nina Austin, College first-year Annika Hansteen Izora and College sophomore Hannah Rosenberg perform a piece together at the OSlam! Showcase last Tuesday. The slam poetry event aimed to promote solidarity and accessibility in spoken word.

Slam Poets Deliver Honest, Moving Performances in Accessible Environment

April 25, 2014

As the lights dimmed, the excited chatter of faculty and students filled the tiny Lord Lounge in anticipation of Oberlin’s OSlam! Poetry Showcase on Tuesday, April 22. Three illuminated microphones sat in wait for performers. Abruptly, the chatter burst into explosive applause as the group members appeared on stage and the show began. Part of Oberlin’s slam poetry group’s mission involves creating a space where art can be shared and accessible in a safe environment, a goal which it definitely...

Subtlety and Detail Define Traci Brimhall Reading

Mary Fischer

February 14, 2014

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...

Nuanced Poetry Addresses Nuclear Issues

Logan Buckley, Staff Writer

September 20, 2013

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...

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,...

Established 1874.