Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-40, Second Edition



in 1980 librarian Judy young the late historian he mark lye and poet Jenny Lim teamed up to publish Island poetry and history of Chinese immigrants on Angel Island 34 years later we have come out with a second edition of the book imprisoned in the wooden building day after day my freedom withheld how can I dare to talk about it I look to see who is happy but they only sit quietly I'm anxious and depressed and cannot fall asleep the nights are long and the pillar cold who can pity my loneliness most Chinese immigrants like our parents who enter the United States during the years of Chinese Exclusion were detained at the Angel Island immigration station in San Francisco Bay there they were confined to a crowded dormitory and subjected to invasive physical exams intense interrogations and often detentions the ordeal of detention and discrimination left a profound mark on the minds of many Chinese immigrants a number of whom wrote poetry on the barrack walls out of frustration anger and despair this place is called an island of immortals when in fact this mountain wilderness is a prison once you see the open net why throw yourself in it is only because of empty pockets I can do nothing else based on new research the second edition of Island Records and translates 150 of these poems including some from Ellis Island and Victoria Island the new book also features 20 profiles of many detainees when we interviewed in the 1970s in 1939 Lee poi u was denied entry and detained on Angel Island for 20 months while waiting for a decision on her appeal to the higher courts she told us everybody said that coming to America was like going to heaven but at Angel Island they treated us Chinese like criminals day in and day out eat and sleep eat and sleep so much mental anguish waiting at Angel Island I must have cried a bowl full of tears it was so pitiful in the end she was deported to China but in 1948 she found a way to return and be admitted as a war bride she settled in San Francisco and raised a family of four children detention barracks and the poetry within stand as a monument to the hardships Chinese immigrants based on Angel Island because of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 our book island pays tribute to their perseverance and determination to make a new life by the Golden Gate today as we search for a way to fix a broken immigration system we would do well to heed the lessons of Angel Island of what can go wrong when a nation's policies do not live up to its ideals of liberty and justice oral you

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