Literary Night to celebrate 10th year publishing students’ foreign language pieces in ‘Nuestras Voces’ journal

Katie Valley, Content Editor

Students who submitted creative writing work in the foreign languages they are studying will be honored at the 10th annual Noche Literaria, or Literary Night, hosted by the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures (DMLL) on Wednesday, March 27.

The event celebrates the publication of students’ work in the “Nuestras Voces” journal, which translates to “Our Voices.” Students published in the journal will also get to showcase their pieces by reading them at the event in front of their peers, professors and parents.

The students submitted their pieces as part of the DMLL’s annual Short Story/Prose Competition. Each language will have its own best poetry and best prose piece winners.

This year marks the 10th year “Nuestras Voces” has been published. The first edition of “Nuestras Voces” included just 27 Spanish pieces, according to Dr. Cecilia Saenz-Roby, founder and editor-in-chief of the journal.

Now, the journal includes six languages: Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, German and Italian. This year’s edition will include 102 works with the full support of the DMLL and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dikka Berven, French special instructor and French language editor for the journal, said it’s meaningful for students to have an outlet to publish their creative works.

“I think students are a little bit surprised there’s even an opportunity to do something like this, and it is a way for them to do something with the language that is creative and not part of the classroom,” she said. “In my opinion, it’s important for them to see that they can use the language to communicate their thoughts, or an emotion or an experience in a new way, working with the language in a new way.”

Saenz-Roby created the journal as an outlet for student publication after being impressed with students’ work. She shared the idea with her students, and they helped her pick the name and design the cover.

They first announced the Foreign Language Contest of Creative Writing in September 2008, according to Saenz-Roby. Now, students each year continue to be celebrated and the winners are rewarded for their work. She said ‘Nuestras Voces’ emphasizes students’ “perseverance, discipline and courage.”

“Students have produced poems and short stories that showcase a great deal of creativity and critical thinking skills, while including a personal tone and style…” Saenz-Roby said. “Regardless of the topic, students have been able to experience a great deal of personal and professional growth through writing for ‘Nuestras Voces.’”

The goal of the event to both Saenz-Roby and Berven is for students to feel inspired to read more works and express their own ideas in foreign languages. Berven said students are encouraged to bring their parents and feel proud of their work because their professors are proud of them.

“For us, to see a student do something creative in a foreign language is a thrill because in order to do it, a student has gotten to a certain level where they are freely using the language, so we feel proud,” she said. “You sort of feel proud that your students could do something like that.”

An exhibition of all 10 volumes of “Nuestras Voces” is now on display in Kresge Library. Previous editions are also available on the OU website.

The Noche Literaria will be Wednesday, March 27 in Oakland Center Banquet Room B from 5-8 p.m.