25 languages, one night of poetry

The 13th Annual International Poetry Reading will be held April 23.

More stories from Hannah Angell


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The 13th International Poetry Reading will feature at least 25 different languages and will be held on April 2 in the Davies Center.

For 13 consecutive years, students, facility and community members have gathered together for the International Poetry Reading — a poetry reading which, this year, will feature at least 25 languages.

“The International Poetry Reading night is an annual event dedicated to building cultural understanding through the beauty of poetry,” Kaishan Kong, an assistant professor in the languages department at UW-Eau Claire, said.

The goal of the 13th International Poetry Reading is to increase public awareness of language diversity, offer opportunities for poetry and showcase talents of all language lovers, Kong said.

“Since Drs. Audrey Fessler and Jeff Vahlbusch co-started the very first International Poetry Reading Night 13 years ago, there have been hundreds of Eau Claire community members who attended this event,” Kong said.

Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders Thomas King said, he has read in Icelandic, Michif, POW Tap Code and Modern International Morse Code.

King said his wife is also a UW-Eau Claire alum, and he supports International Poetry Reading through UW-Eau Claire Foundation each year because he said he believes it’s important for international awareness, appreciation and understanding.

“It is a fun, engaging, enthralling celebration of diverse cultures and ways of thinking,” King said.

The event is open to UW-Eau Claire students, faculty and staff as well as local residents who would like to read poems in a language other than modern standard English. There is not a language requirement to be able to attend and listen to poetry.

“I know that International Poetry Reading revels in and fully celebrates human excellence in diverse ways of using speech, voice, hearing and language,” King said.

“This year, I will read some short observational poems by Icelandic poet Jonas Hallgrimsson, circa 1840s,” King said. “He wrote of nature at a time when life in all forms on Iceland was recovering from devastating volcanoes that began in 1783.”

Inspiration for his poetry reading for this years event came from raising “Registered Icelandic Sheep at our little, primitive Sunny Cove Farm on panoramic hills overlooking Lake Superior and Duluth, MN, and hang out each day with our native Icelandic partners in wool production, our sheep,” King said.

The 13th annual International Poetry Reading event this year will be held in the Davies Center from 7 to 9 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23rd. International foods and beverages will be available for audience members.  

“Hearing the world in dozens of languages each year is a true thrill,” King said.

Angell can be reached at [email protected].