On January 21, we will commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the opening of the U.S. Immigration Station, Angel Island with a lecture/reading by Charles Egan, Professor of Chinese at San Francisco State University. The program on Angel Island inscriptions and poems will be from 1 pm to 3 pm at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC) , 1840 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA in the Exhibit Room . Hak Hee Kang, a member of the Berkeley Korean Literature Association, and two members of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California Senior Women’s Writers Group will also read the immigrant poems.
Professor Egan has researched the wall inscriptions at the Angel Island Immigration Station for several years, and has identified up to 60 new Chinese poetic inscriptions at present unknown to the public. Miscellaneous Chinese prose inscriptions and up to 40 pictorial carvings have also been found on the walls. Chinese is not the only language represented: inscriptions in Japanese, Korean, Russian, Punjabi, and several other languages have been found, deciphered, and researched.
While Chinese were the only group to carve poetry on the walls, other groups wrote poems about the immigrant experience as well – and published them in newspapers. Professor Egan and his research team have reviewed Japanese and Korean newspapers of the 1910-1940 period, and discovered scores of compelling poems by new immigrants describing such topics as Angel Island detention, picture brides, homesickness, impressions of San Francisco and the Central Valley, and farm and factory work. Some poems are poignant complaints about the unfair laws and racial bias to which Asian immigrants were subject.
For this event, Professor Egan will present a selection of the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean inscriptions and poems, and also read excerpts of a Japanese detainee’s Angel Island diary, and recount the tragic suicide of a picture bride
Hee Hak Kang will read three Korean poems: “A Night at the Immigration Station,” “Angel Island,” and “Farewell.”
The program is co-sponsored by the JCCCNC and AIISF with additional sponsorship from Asia Society, Korean Center, Inc. and National Japanese American Historical Society. KGO-TV is our media sponsor. Admission is free.
For more information, contact AIISF at 415 262.4429.