Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty were important to my family, where stories were told about my mother’s Irish and Danish relatives landing on U.S.A. shores.
As a Jersey gal for the first stretch of my child days, images of the outstretched arm and golden lamp were more tangible than other U.S.A. icons, say, for example, Mount Rushmore, or the Golden Gate Bridge.
Our collective U.S.A. heritage includes another immigration station, Angel Island. It is this Western shore processing area that a book including poems translated by Evans Chen, for ages 7-12, now visits. The historic poems by immigrants are presented by the noted non-fiction researcher/writer for young readers, Russell Freedman. I am grateful to know about it, through two librarians, known as The Nonfiction Detectives.
“For more than twenty days I fed on wind and tasted waves.
With luck, I arrived safely in the United States.
I thought I could land in a few days.
How was I to know that I would become a prisoner
suffering in this wooden building?”
As The Nonfiction Detectives explains, poetry on forgotten walls led to this book. It was only through the interest of a California park ranger, Alexander Weiss, who discovered the priceless expressions and alerted the Asian community to rally to save the works, that the wider world now can know of them through this book.
The immigrants’ journey across the Pacific is covered in non-poetry text, along with the role of Angel Island. The RF trademark, historic black and white documentary photographs, are counterpoint to some of the immigrants’ saved poems. Unique.