FOR THE LOVE OF POETRY


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FIT students are known for being driven, creative, and business-savvy. After an inspiring event last week, Hue is prepared to add one more attribute to the list: lovers of poetry.

Indeed, beginning foreign-language students read beautifully in a range of languages to a packed house at the 25th Annual Foreign Language Poetry Recitation Ceremony on November 13. No advanced students were permitted to enter, yet the winners read with precision and grace. It reminded us that the sound of poetry is beautiful even when we don’t understand the words.

Contest winner Daeyoung Yoo reads a poem in Chinese. Photos by Smiljana Peros.

Contest winner Daeyoung Yoo reads a poem in Chinese. Photos by Smiljana Peros.

Professor James Cascaito, chair of the Modern Languages and Cultures Department and a poet in his own right, started the competition a quarter-century ago because he loved reciting poetry as a student and hoped that the process would foster language appreciation in FIT students.

“If they have a deeper love for the language, they are more likely to continue on to the advanced levels,” he explained.

Tenor Neal Harrelson sang arias in between readings.

In between readings, tenor Neal Harrelson sang arias in Romance languages to entertain the crowd.

FIT offers numerous opportunities for winning prizes and scholarships, but this competition isn’t one of them. Students win a parchment certificate and a rose–and, if they’re lucky, a love of the foreign language they’re studying.

“People ask, ‘Why not give them a gift certificate?'” Cascaito said. “Absolutely not! I don’t want it connected to anything commercial. Students have to learn that there are certain honors that stand on their own. You win the distinction of being a scholar. And the students take very well to that lesson.”

The foreign-language students who won the poetry recitation competition.

Winners and runners-up of the Foreign Language Poetry Recitation Competition.

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