In the back of the room there was a chocolate fountain, all the more reason to attend the Valentine’s Day-themed open mic held in the multipurpose room of St. Mary’s hall Friday afternoon.

More than 25 language students and staff gathered to read love poems in any language of their choosing along with the english translation.

The result was an insight into the different meanings love has in various cultures, with poems being read in eight different languages throughout the event.

Fatemeh Keshavarz, the director of the school of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, said that those who performed shared feelings and emotions they otherwise would not have expressed.

She said having an open-mic in different languages can get people interested in learning languages they may have never heard.

This was the second annual Valentine’s Day open-mic, and was hosted by the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies along with the St. Mary’s language house.

Dr. Phoenix Liu, the director of the Language House, said falling in love has many different definitions. She said these can range from caring about the environment to caring about family or a significant other.

“I fall in love all the time, [like] if I see a full moon,” she said. “And that’s just astounding, I can fall in love in a second.”

Emma Minnis, a junior history major, read “I Was Dead,” a poem by Rumi. She read the english translation out loud, ending with the lines:

“All because of love

when it arrived

my temporal life

from then on

changed to eternal.”

“I like the idea of eternal life given by that feeling of love,” Minnis said. “I think that Rumi writes a lot about human divinity, and you how can reach that feeling through love.”

Unfortunately, some of the meaning in poems can be lost in the translations from their original languages. Minnis said if people understood the english as well as the Persian translations of Rumi’s poems, for example, that he would be a more well-known figure in the United States.

Lauren Paniati, a junior sociology and spanish major, said she came to the open-mic because she loves poetry and listening to other languages, like Arabic and Persian. She read a poem in Spanish called “Aqui Te Amo,” by Pablo Neruda.

“It’s about longing and love,” Paniati said. “It’s kind of sad but he’s very visual.” The first stanza of the poem uses metaphors to compare love to the trees, the moon and time.

“Here I love you.

In the dark pines the wind disentangles itself.

The moon glows like phosphorous on the vagrant waters.

Days, all one kind, go chasing each other.”

“I connected with the feeling and the way that he describes love in nature,” Paniati said.

When thinking about the definition of love in different languages, Paniati said that it can take on different meanings because each person experiences love differently. She said love takes on different meanings in each culture because language and experience contribute to how it is expressed.

“Love is complicated,” she said about the sentiments expressed through the poems read at the open-mic. “And it’s a journey, and it’s not easy.”

Featured Photo Credits: Featured photo courtesy of Flickr user emdot.

WritersBloc_Headshots_23Alex Carolan is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at

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