Worlds of Success
On February 25, the first Worlds Between Words event was held at the Weisman Art Museum. Organized by the Department of French & Italian, the event embraced collaboration between several language departments: German, Scandinavian & Dutch; Classical & Near Eastern Studies; Spanish & Portuguese Studies; and Asian Languages & Literatures.
The French and Italian department’s goal was simple: increase student engagement and celebrate diversity through poetry. “We want students to feel like they’re part of a larger project,” said Post-Doctoral Fellow Ioana Pribiag, who led the event’s planning.
This multilingual poetry night featured fifty poems, eleven musical pieces performed by four local musicians, and artwork contributed by University students Laurel Tieman and Eve Zabronsky, as well as some of the readers. The languages represented included Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and Urdu. Poems ranged from Catullus and Virgil to Louise Labé and Goethe, from Marina Tsvetaeva and Faiz Ahmed Faiz to original poems written by students like French major Gabrielle Bruhjell.
Second year undergraduate student Veera Vasandi participated in a group reading of Rimbaud’s “Vowels” with her classmates in French. Vasandi really enjoyed the event and how it brought together faculty, staff, and students through multilingual poetry, music and art. "It was an amazing collaboration to be a part of,” she says.
In addition to poetry readings, Worlds Between Words showcased the musical stylings of Muse Salon’s Artistic Director and talented pianist, Ora Itkin. Other musicians were featured as well: Laura Sewell played Heitor Villa-Lobos’s melancholic “Song of the Black Swan”; Chris Kachian performed a playful classical guitar interpretation of Franz Schubert’s “Arpeggione Sonata”; violinist Stephanie Arado played fragments of Enescu’s onomatopoeic “Impressions of Childhood”; and young musicians Daniel Wu and Theo Chaouat charmed the audience with their interludes. The musicians donated their time to create an atmosphere that reflected and built upon the poetry’s themes and the projections of the art pieces.
Students like sophomore Laura d’Almeida, a French studies major, thus had the opportunity both to perform readings themselves as well as watch others. “The flow of poems along with the music was a unique combination,” d’Almeida says. “Through the poems in different languages, I felt like I was travelling through different worlds. The readers were great at getting into character and drawing the audience to their words, even if we did not understand them.” D’Almeida also participated in the group reading of Rimbaud, additionally reading David Diop’s “Africa My Africa” and Léon Damas’s “Sale.”
Over a hundred people attended the event, proving it to be a huge success. The Department of French & Italian would like to expand the gathering, developing it into a much larger community outreach event. The department has applied for several grants, hoping that in 2017 they can hold the event at a larger venue, allowing even more students and community members to attend.