paper son

<<written & performed by byron yee>>


The poems at Angel Island are primarily carved into the walls of the men's barracks and a few other select locations in the building.  Largely ignored for over thirty years and with the building scheduled for demolition, a state of California park ranger, Alexander Weiss, inquired about their significance but was rebuffed by his superiors.  Weiss brought his San Francisco State Biology Professor, a Japanese-American named Dr. George Araki, to the barracks and Dr. Araki recognized the carvings as poems.

The building was eventually saved and preserved and is now a National Historic Landmark.  However, the historic barracks are in an increasing state of disrepair.  The Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to renovating, preserving, and educating future generations about this significant site.  Please visit and contribute at www.aiisf.com .

The four poems are examples of the one hundred plus poems that are found on the walls.  NOTE:  The translations do not match up with the photos.

The "Ox" Poem
The "Departing" Poem
The "Hero" Poem
The "Revenge" Poem


Poem Translations Courtesy of University of Washington Press.  "Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940", ISBN 0-295-97109-6.

To read all of the Angel Island poems, order "Island" from Amazon.com

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