Celebrating diversity and inclusivity

Latinx Heritage Month continues with the poetry of Denice Frohman at Noche de Poesia

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Photo by Sam Farley

Denice Frohman turns poetry into a performance during Noche de Poesía.

As students, faculty, staff and community members filed into Schofield Auditorium Friday, the syncopated rhythms and characteristic guitar trills of Latin music filled the air at UW-Eau Claire’s Noche de Poesía event.

Noche de Poesía, which translates to “night of poetry” in English, was a part of the celebration of Latinx Heritage Month at UW-Eau Claire — which started Sept. 18 and goes through Oct. 12. It featured the poetic stylings and personal stories of Denice Frohman.

Noche de Poesía was organized by the Office of Multicultural Affairs through the work of Latinx Student Services Coordinator Melissa Moore.

“I think that it’s really important to bring in different perspectives and have them be performed in such a way that resonates across culture, across difference,” Moore said.

Moore first encountered Frohman’s poetry at a conference for the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute as an undergraduate and then again earlier this year at a similar conference with some of the OMA students. She said she decided then and there that she would find a way to bring Frohman to UW-Eau Claire to inspire and motivate students.

The evening began with opening remarks from Moore and a brief speech from one of the OMA interns, and then Frohman took the stage. Frohman’s poetry celebrates the intersectionality of identity and the experiences of Latinx peoples.

Latinx, according to the English Oxford Dictionary, is defined as a person of Latin American descent. Latinx is a gender-neutral term that allows the inclusivity of those identifying as LGBTQ and may not identify as Latino/a. Frohman said the use of the term ‘Latinx’ is growing in popularity, especially among the younger generations — because language often evolves as people and cultural norms do.

“My Latinidad is shaped in a particular way that might be different from other Latinx folks,” Frohman said. “None of us are one and the same. There’s a lot of diversity within our culture, and I think Latinx also represents that as well. That we’re not a monolith. For me, Latinx and Latinx Heritage Month is an opportunity to celebrate all that we are and to recognize the nuance and the diversity within our community.”

Emily Archambo, a first-year psychology student, and Rachel Davies, a first-year secondary English and Spanish education student, attended Noche de Poesía after seeing a poster for the event in their residence halls.

“I liked how it wasn’t something that you needed to be Latinx to enjoy and have it resonate with you,” Archambo said.

Frohman shared poetry that encompassed a multitude of topics, including ones that related to current issues, such as the Kavanaugh investigations and recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids. Frohman discussed on multiple occasions through the night how the personal was political and it was the responsibility of people from all communities to support and empower others.

“Everyone needs to be informed about (cultural issues),” Davies said. “It’s not just something that doesn’t affect you. It does affect you, even if it doesn’t individually.”

Noche de Poesía was a taste of all that Latinx Heritage Month has to offer. There are more Latinx Heritage Month events to attend in the coming weeks.

“For me, (Latinx Heritage Month) is an opportunity to celebrate a part of myself that is really important to me, part of my upbringing and my family that is central to my identity,” Frohman said.

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected].