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Wild Geese Sorrow renders full the story of Chinese immigrants detained at the Angel Island Immigration Station between 1910-1940. Based upon new translations of the mostly anonymous poems carved into the men's barracks walls, these words express the deep anger, sorrow, and loneliness felt by the detainees, and are a powerful testament to human resiliency and perseverance everywhere.
About the Author
Jeffrey Thomas Leong is a poet and writer born in Southern California and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. He holds an MFA degree from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and a BA and JD from the University of California at Berkeley, where he helped found the Asian American Studies program in the 1970s. For over twenty years he worked as a public health administrator and attorney for the City of San Francisco.
His writing has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Cimarron Review, Bamboo Ridge, Hyphen, Cha: A Literary Journal, Spillway, Eleven Eleven Literary Journal, Poetry Flash, and elsewhere. He lives with his wife and daughter in the East Bay.
“Jeffrey Thomas Leong is a fine poet, and his translations of 70 of the poems are nuanced,
affecting, and informed by a haunting but astringent music. They do commendable justice
to the Angel Island poets, writers who were not welcomed to these shores—but who
nevertheless made a crucial and indelible contribution to our national literary culture.”
— David Wojahn, author of Interrogation Palace
“Jeffrey Leong’s Wild Geese Sorrow is a marvelous translation of the wall poems written by Chinese held at Angel Island, California, from 1910-1940, during their immigration review. His keenly nuanced translations follow the lineation of the original poems and juxtapose images that show their classical poetic lineage. Most importantly, he humanizes each speaker by articulating the emotional pressure behind each poem. In a time of antiimmigrant sentiment, this book is important reading for all Americans.”
—Arthur Sze, author of The Red-Shifting Web
“This beautiful book is haunted by the sad and angry presence of nameless men who
carved their feelings into Angel Island walls. Leong’s translations and sequencing,
footnotes, and historical contextualization gift us with a glimpse into a world we might
otherwise never know. Why did these men leave home? What were their thoughts about
families and villages they left behind? How did they view their detention, jailers, and
interrogators? Leong unveils the diversity of their personalities and social backgrounds.
These poems are at the foundation of Asian American literature and are an essential
contribution to American literary history.”
— Elaine H. Kim, Professor of Asian American and Asian
Diaspora Studies, University of California, Berkeley