Immigrants were subject to physical and mental exams to ensure they were fit for admittance to the United States. Upon arrival at Ellis Island, immigrants were ushered into a room called the Great Hall and paraded before a series of medical officers for physical inspection.
May 21, Poetry in History: During the era of Chinese Exclusion, immigration interviews were more like interrogations. Conditions in the barracks were very much like prison, too. Detainees were separated by gender and locked Ellis island peom in crowded barracks while they awaited questioning, for weeks or months — sometimes, for years — at a time.
To pass the time, many immigrants wrote or carved poems into the soft wood of the barrack walls. The poems vary in theme, form, and in level of polish, and serve as a testimony to the experience of detention, chronicling everything from hope to anger to loneliness, to a sense of adventure.
The sea-scape resembles lichen twisting and turning for a thousand li. With a gentle breeze I arrived at the city thinking all would be so. At ease, how was one to know he was to live in a wooden building?
I could do nothing but frown and feel angry at heaven. They are cut off, denied passage, hemmed in by human constructions both physical and psychological.
That the poems are also so different in tone also indicates the complex diversity of attitudes amongst the detainees: The tone of the second poem explodes with angry energy, while the first is ironic and almost dryly detached at its end.
There are a number of directions that Asian American writers have taken in the past while trying to engage the topic of Angel Island. Some adopt personas, playing on the ambiguity of personal identity inherent to the Paper Son system and American prejudice as they bring to life characters who may or may not have passed through the detention center.
Others, like Russell Leong, remain in the present but work historical modes in and out of their poems. Write a poem whose form patterns itself on the rhythms of one of the translated wall poems. Write a poem that engages with the textural aspects of the Angel Island site from a contemporary perspective.
How might the physical properties of walls and floors evoke imaginative speculation about the tactile aspects of historical experience? For example, how might the splintery grooves of a wall carving give birth to the image of the action of carving, itself?
In the spirit of the two wall poems posted above, write a poem that plays with the question of physical space.
Think about interiority vs.Ellis Island Immigrant quotes - 1. No, my family is Russian, Georgian, via Ellis Island. Read more quotes and sayings about Ellis Island Immigrant. Doctors Examining Eyes of Immigrants at Ellis Island The medical examination at Ellis Island is conducted according to a system which is the result of many years of development.
The doctors work in pairs, and divide the inspection between them. Goodbye Ellis Island, hello land of free Every man and woman Every girl and boy Sing out Ellis Island Sing a song of hope Sing for us together Sing we're not alone Sing we'll go back someday Sing we will belong Sing for us together Sing we're not alone Sing we'll go back someday.
Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Discover your own family's American immigration story.
Read more. In , the Ellis Island Oral History Project was founded in order to preserve these immigrant stories. Today, the archive has over 2, interviews. Peter Boyer was captivated by these stories as he set out to write a commission in a poem or a play their experience of coming to America in the early ’s, capturing the emotion of the trip over on a cramp steamship, to being received at Ellis and processed through to becoming an Ellis Island, on the other hand-coldly efficient, recalling not.