Object of a darker chapter in American history, the Angel Island Poems (as they have become known) are a recently discovered body of over 135 poems, written primarily in Chinese. These were literally carved into the walls at the Angel Island Immigration Station, where Chinese immigrants were detained, sometimes indefinitely, between approximately 1910-1940.
This lesson demonstrates how history and culture can be integral to our understanding of poetry, even poetry that is deeply reflective and personal in nature; by requiring students to model and produce their own poetry, it also makes evident that writing poetry is a creative instinct and outlet that people have turned to regardless of time, education level, or culture.
This lesson can take anywhere from 40 minutes to several class periods, depending on the size of your class and how many of the poems you wish to discuss.
Kotlarczyk, Adam, "Angel Island Poetry: Reading and Writing Cultures" (2012). Understanding Poetry. 1.