The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Multicultural poetry event shows off the beauty of different cultures

The seventh annual International Poetry Reading took place at 7:30 p.m., April 23rd  in the Ojibwe Grand Ballroom located in the Davies Center. About 230 individuals ranging from students and faculty members to community members from all over the Chippewa Valley gathered to experience the world in 42 different languages.

The evening’s readings were spoken and sung in a variety of languages ranging from Akkadian to Yiddish. To help the audience fully understand the readings a booklet was handed out before the event that included not only the original language of the reading, but also the English translation.

The event is hosted each year by UW-Eau Claire’s English Festival and is generously supported by the UW-Eau Claire Foundation, Center for International Education, the English Department, the Foreign Languages Department and Student Senate.

The President of the English Festival, Erin Stevens gave insight on how the event is organized.

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“It’s a combined effort from all of us from editing the cover to planning the reception,” Stevens said.

The readers’ hard work and dedication was reflected in the crowd’s response. Associate Professor of English Audrey Fessler and Associate Professor of foreign language Jeff Vahlbusch are the creators of this multicultural event shared the evenings rating.

“It looks like (the crowd) rated the event as a 4.7 on a scale of 5,” Fessler said.

These results were based on the feedback form that was handed out in the booklets before the reading.

Fessler and Vahlbusch were thrilled with the turnout this year from the size of the crowd to the number of readers that participated.

Sophomore Nay Myo Win read a Burmese poem titled “A Peasant”, written by Wungyi Padethayza. He participated in last year’s reading, but compared to his previous performance he felt more comfortable this time around.

“Last year I was really nervous, I had to hold the stage so I wouldn’t fall off, I was so scared, but this year I was ok,” Win said.

When asked if he plans on performing in next year’s poetry reading Win responded with an enthusiastic “Yes” and added this is a really good event to share the culture on campus.

Junior Zhen Wei Yap read a poem in Malay titled “Woodpecker”, written by Rahman Shaari. When asked how he felt about tonight’s reading and whether or not he will perform in next year’s event he responded with an answer similar to Win’s.

“This is my first time around, this is the first year that I have been (at Eau Claire) so I will be doing this again next year,” Yap said.

The readers’ efforts did not go unnoticed. Russ Vahlbusch and his wife Ginny Vahlbusch, both residents of Chippewa Falls, really enjoyed the evenings readings.

Russ Vahlbusch said since his wife has lost most of her sight due to macular degeneration and glaucoma that he will sit down and read three or four poems a day with Ginny so she can hear the English translations.

Despite losing her sight Ginny Vahlbusch realized something positive while at the reading that she never thought about before.

“I decided tonight that there are some advantages to losing my central vision, I’m not distracted by the words, I could listen to the cadence and the sound of the poem and some of the sounds are simply beautiful, they just give you goose bumps,” Ginny Vahlbusch said.

This multicultural event is a held annually; Fessler and Vahlbusch are already thinking of new ideas for next year’s event. The English festival is also looking forward to next year’s reading.

“Even though all languages are different, the beauty of poetry is shared by everyone regardless of the language you speak,” Stevens said.

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Multicultural poetry event shows off the beauty of different cultures