Island, a collection of poetry compiled by Lai, Lim, and Yung, paints a haunting image of life on Angel Island for Chinese Immigrants. The poems in this work detail the treatment of the immigrants upon their arrival into the United States, the feelings they each experienced on the journey to this new land, and the mix of emotions they were feeling in regard to the lives they left behind. There are a variety of themes included in these, and some of the most commonly seen relate to individuals immigrating in order to provide for family back in China, the conditions of the detention center, and the emotions the immigrants were feeling not only towards the U.S. but also towards China.
The tales of the bright-eyed faces prepared to enter the United States with dreams of work and new lives are tossed aside once they all bear witness to the quality of life there. One particular poem that stuck out to me was Poem 33, which said:
America has power, but not justice.
In prison, we were victimized as if we were guilty.
Given no opportunity to explain, it was really brutal.
I bow my head in reflection, but there is nothing I can do.
The language used in this poem felt far blunter than any of the other poems I read and evoked a far different feeling than the others did. Despite poetry being a beautiful form of art, Poem 33, as well as many others in this collection are wake up calls to the treatment of immigrants then and even now.
Hi! I also picked Poem 33, and talked about its meaning during this era of Chinese immigration as well as currently with what is happening on the southern border of the United States. I also agreed that it was blunt, but if we were in that situation, I feel like blunt would have been one of the only ways I could have gotten my emotions out.