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.
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