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Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. - Books for All Ages
Since 1970 January 2007
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AACP's January 2007
Poetry Selection

A Poem From 1924
By the Golden Gate Poetry Club

Poems by AACP
Our staff's Annual Attempt at Writing Poetry
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AACP's January 2007 Poetry Selection

Picture of Bugle Boys Bugle Boys
A Poem by Garrett Hongo
Author, Poet, and Prof. of Creative Writing at the Univ. of Oregon

Photo by Gerry Stewart

As I am Kubota's voice in this life,
                                chanting broken hymns to the sea,
So also am I my father's hearing,
                        55 now and three years shy of his age when he died,
My ears open as the mouth-shells of two conchs, drinking in a soft, onshore wind.

In the fall of '63, at the end of our first year in Gardena, south of L.A.,
                        electrician that he was, he built his own home hi-fi-
Speakers out of parts from Scandinavia, an amp kit ordered through the mails,
The glittering turntable, brushed gold aluminum, a drivebelt, and an inboard motor--
Each component meticulously laid out on a bedsheet soon after it arrived,
Jigsawed cabinet boards with serrated edges, yellow capacitors and rectifiers black as tar,
                        shining and glossy as aquarium fish under living room light,
And the miniature crystal towers of vacuum tubes,
                                                steel pins scaly as aged platinum,
Erector sets of grey plates and haloed getters intricate as space stations
                                                                        under sparkling glass.
In shapes like Coke bottles, potato mashers, and--my favorite-the tiny rockets
                                                                        with arrowed heads
He called "Bugle Boys" for the labels of white-line cartoons,
                        anthropomorphized tubes
                                blowing trumpets stamped on each of their sides.
"They make electric sound come sweet," he said, "Like no can b'lieve…"

He'd spend evenings in the garage, soldering circuitry and studying schematics-
Blue zigzags and squiggles on grey paper that folded like army maps-
                                                                        checking his work.

Once the speakers were set in their walnut cabinets
                                                and the amp out of its gold-mesh cage,
He asked me to listen while he balanced the stereo channels--a marvel--
And swapped input tubes, pulling pairs from the sagging pocket
                                                                of his aloha shirt,
The glass of them making a gentle clatter like tea or sake cups
As they knocked softly together when he dipped and swirled his fingers in,
                                                pulling them out like fancy fish from a bowl.

He couldn't hear.
                        Or, rather, he couldn't quite hear, losing it from a lifetime
                                                        of cumulative, small misfortunes:
A fever as a child in McCully, guns and canons while away at war at 17,
The job holding down a jackhammer, the job under jet engines at Kaneohe Marine Base.
I knew every reason, though he never gave one himself.

                                                                "Sit here," he'd say,
Pointing to the carpeted floor in front of the beige sofa we never used.
He'd throw me a zabuton to sit on, tell me to concentrate,
And I'd hear measure after measure of Big Band tunes filling the room
Like airy clouds of brass cotton lofting around the lamps, ashtrays,
                                                        and coconut curios around me.
"American Patrol," "Ciribiribin," and "Shake Down the Stars" took turns
With lush vibraphones and strummed ukes--50s hotel music from the islands.

"Tell me whatchu hearing," he'd say, and I would, my father taking notes,
Smiling over our evenings of pleasurable work, string basses and horns in my ears,
Kickdrums and toms reverberating through the floorboards,
Sinatra swaggering a tune, just behind the beat.

What did I know of travail or passion then? My father trying to beat the clock,
Hastening to hear or not hear each spinning A-side he ever danced to
                                                                at the Black Cat in Honolulu
Before the world closed its cave of cotton around him,
Cymbals become a silent splash of metallic light, snare rolls a strobe of sticks
                                                                        with no sound,
A song only a murmur without scale,       
                                        and music a birthplace he could never return to.

"No ka ipo lei… manu," sang the Sons of Hawaii, and so I said they did,
My father jotting it down, Bugle Boys jousting in the pocket of his shirt.
About the Following Poem and the
Golden Gate Poetry Club

By Leonard D. Chan

Last fall when I was conducting an interview with historian Judy Yung, I asked Prof. Yung about some of the sources for her book San Francisco Chinatown. She directed me to several interesting websites including an immense archive created by the Berkeley Digital Library sponsored by the UC Berkeley Library and Sun Microsystems, Inc.

At this site, I made a serendipitous discovery of a book published in 1924 by an organization called the Golden Gate Poetry Club. The Berkeley Digital Library had scanned the entire book and placed it on their website. (See the Book)

This book caught my attention because it was written by early twentieth century Chinese immigrants that, to this day, are not often view as being educated or even literate. Chinese American historians are knowledgeable of the hidden literary talents of early Chinese immigrants. Historian Marlon Hom even wrote a book called Songs of Gold Mountain, which contains translated Chinese American poems written even earlier than the Golden Gate Poetry Club's volume. Prof. Hom describes how San Francisco Chinatown was actually teaming

with lots of poetry clubs, newspapers, and bookstores. During the early 20th century, Chinatown had at least two daily newspapers, ten bookstores, and even a poetry club with over 150 members. So the book I had found on the Berkeley Digital Library site was just one piece of evidence left behind from this era.

The Golden Gate Poetry Club's book was in Chinese, but fortunately for me, its prologue had been translated into English. The part that intrigued me the most states, "The club will collect manuscripts and compile a book. The sole purpose of doing so is to leave something refined for the Chinese American." The term "Chinese American" is a fairly new term and perhaps this part of the translation was slightly off, but their intent was unmistakably. They wrote it for all of us and they wanted us to forever know of their thoughts, feelings, and existence.

Thanks to the help of our volunteers Jone and Austin Djang, at least one of the poems will live on for English readers.

Long may the Golden Gate Poetry Club live!

To Celebrate Spring at Golden Gate
A Poem by Huang Zi Cai (also spelled Wong Sun Choy)
Translated by Jone Djang with help from Austin Djang
Golden Gate Poetry Club Collection of Poetry p10-11

Flying flower petals follow the sweet-smelling earth,
The feeling of late spring overwhelms me as I visit the Golden Gate,
Canaries sing a sad song outside the pavilion while a flute is played inside,
Visions of roadside willows remind me of a person in my dreams.

A song at the Golden Gate is accompanied by a plucket1 playing three times,
Inviting the moon to have drinks in the golden valley,
I moan an endless sorrow, knowing that I must part some day,
Minds of heartache are where-ever cuckoo birds2 weep aloud.

One might sigh at how time passes by while being a guest,
At the ending of spring, one will always treasure the time that has passed by.
The fantasy of Perilla3 Fairies has disappeared with the flowing water,
Du Mu's4 passing has been embodied by the sadness of falling flowers.

At the end of the golden tread song, one cherishes the fading makeup on a woman's face.
The Pi Pa's5 song cries a river on the blue gown.
These memorable scenes will be viewed again next year,
When the time is right, young flower buds will sprout again.

1 plucket: an ancient Chinese stringed musical instrument
2 cuckoo bird: this bird is often related to sadness in Chinese poetry
3 Perilla: A type of plant
4 Du Mu: A famous ancient Chinese poet (A.D. 803-852)
5 Pi Pa: an ancient Chinese stringed musical instrument (similar to the banjo)

Editor's Message

Hello Everyone,

Happy New Year!

First of all, a few announcements -
If you are reading this on or before the morning of Saturday January 13th and are in driving distance of San Mateo, please come to our 3rd Annual Poetry in San Mateo Day. We have author, poet, and performer Genny Lim scheduled to make an appearance. Plus we will have a discussion about the Golden Gate Poetry Club and read from their book in a public setting for perhaps the first time in over 82 years. All poets and poetry enthusiast are also invited to share your poetry and favorite poems.

Authors Cynthia Chin-Lee and William Poy Lee are having readings and signings. See our schedule for details about the time and place for their appearances.

SF-based nonprofit arts organizations Galería de la Raza, Kearny Street Workshop, and Intersection for the Arts are seeking applications for the 4th Intergenerational Writers Lab 2007literary program for emerging writers. The program consists of over 27 hours of workshop sessions to help budding writers become more proficient and to allow them networking opportunities and exposure that could further their careers in writing. The application deadline is January 19, 2007, so hurry.

The Chinese American Museum of Northern California in Marysville is having a grand opening on March 24th and 25th. Our February newsletter will contain more details about this exciting event.

Thank you Judy Yung, Genny Lim, Marisa Louie, Florence, Hongo, and William Greene for your help with research on the Golden Gate Poetry Club.

Thank you very much Garrett Hongo, Jone and Austin Djang, Philip Chin, and Sophie Wong for your contributions to this newsletter. It couldn't be done without you.

Leonard Chan
Executive Editor

Give Us Your Feedback

Please feel free to send us your reviews, comments, and book suggestions. You can contact us at -

Up Coming Events

Here are some events that AACP will soon be attending. Invite us to your events.
Jan. 13
3rd Annual Poetry In San Mateo Day
A Beginning of the Year Poetry Celebration
With Poet Genny Lim
529 E. 3rd Ave.
San Mateo, CA
Jan. 31
Children's Author Cynthia Chin-Lee will read
A is for Asia
College Terrace Lib.
2300 Wellesley Ave.
Palo Alto, CA
Feb. 3
10:30 am.
Children's Author Cynthia Chin-Lee will read
Almond Cookies and Dragon Well Tea
Berkeley Cen. Lib.
Berkeley, CA
Feb. 18
The 27th Annual San Jose
Day of Remembrance 2007
In Good Conscience
Betsuin Bud. Church
640 N 5th St.
San Jose, CA
Feb. 24-25 Reading the World IX USF
2350 Turk Blvd.
San Francisco, CA
Mar. 2-4 California Council for the Social Studies Conference Marriott Oakland City Center
Oakland, CA
Mar. 4
Chinese New Year's Celebration Stockton Civic Aud.
525 N. Center St.
Stockton, CA
Mar. 24-25 127th Bok Kai Festival, Parade, and Bomb Day 3rd & D St.
Marysville, CA
Mar. 24-25
The Chinese American Museum of N. CA Grand Opening
Lectures and discussion with Profs. Gordon Chang, Ling-chi Wang, Judy Yung, Gregory Mark and others
232 1st St.
Marysville, CA
Other Event of Interest that AACP May Not Attend
Jan. 20
If They Came For Me Today: The Japanese American Internment Project Reception and Exhibit SF Main Lib.
San Francisco, CA
Feb. 8
Author Willian Poy Lee introduces his new book
The Eighth Promise: An American Son's Tribute to His Toisanese Mother
Kepler's Books
Menlo Park, CA
Feb. 10-
Mar. 4
Chinese New Year
Celebration Events in SF
San Francisco, CA
Feb. 18
Vietnamese Spring Festival & Parade
Parade 11am-1pm
Parkside Hall
180 Park Ave.
San Jose, CA
Mar. 3
Chinese New Year Parade San Francisco, CA

Poems by AACP
Our Annual AACP staffs' Attempt at Writing Haiku and Tanka

Poetry Links

Haiku Links
Haiku for People
Jane Reichhold
Keiko Imaoka
Gerald England

Tanka Links
Jane Reichhold on Tanka
American Tanka, Inc.
Richard MacDonald - What Is A Tanka?

General Link
Scholastic Inc. Poetry Writing Page for Kids (grades 1-8)

Haiku and Tanka by Philip Chin

Quietly ends the year
Winter night alone my love
Someday happy Spring

Together Again
Shy smile in my mind
Gracefully turning to me
Many many miles away
Together again smiling
Next year's Happy New Year Day!

Haikus and Tanka by Leonard D. Chan

The Promise of Today
Beautiful cool day
A promising beginning
Peace and love for all

The Promise of 67
Forty years
Since summer of love
Still no peace

Get Up
A warm bed
Birds and sun beckon
Rise and live

Share the Journey
Friends and relatives
Who've shared my freeway of life
Journey some further
Please, take no off ramps this day
Enjoy now with those we love

Haiku by Sophie Wong

Lunar Halo
Night air crisp, sky clear
A ring around the full moon -
A sign of world peace?


The following books are discounted for subscribers to our newsletter. The discounts on these books end February 10, 2007.

Book cover picture

Child of War

Poems by Genny Lim
2003, 78 pages, Paperback.

"Genny Lim is passionate in her grief at the loss of her daughter, passionate in her sorrow and rage for the world, and yet her touch is so skillful and light, her language so tender and fierce and patient, that it reads like a book of prayer. These poems are luminous, simple and full of grace."
-Aurora Levins Morales, poet, essayist, community historian and activist, and poetry commentator for Pacifica Radio's Flashpoints on KPFA-Radio in Berkeley.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3436, Price $10.00

Book cover picture

An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina American Writers

Edit by Nick Carbó and Eileen Tabios
2000, 336 pages, Paperback.

Babaylan is a collection of over 60 Filipina and Filipina American writers' works of short stories and poetry. The subject matter range is quite diverse and is sure to pique your interest for many hours.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3438, Price $16.95

Book cover picture

The Book of Perceptions

Poems by Truong Tran
Photographs by Chung Hoang Chuong
1999, 73 pages, Paperback.

The Book of Perceptions is a fascinating book that combines poetry with pictures. Snap shots of life in Vietnam are displayed like frames in a movie while the poetry text flows free form without any punctuation marks.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3437, Price $20.00

Book cover picture

Asian Arts & Crafts for Creative Kids

By Patricia Donegan
2003, 64 pages, hardback.

A favorite returns to the AACP newsletter!

Patricia Donegan's Haiku book is a great introduction for young and old to the poetry form known as haiku. It explores the seven keys to writing haiku and provides instructions for five haiku projects, including creating haiga, or illustrated haiku.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #3273, Price $12.95

Book cover picture

Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants
on Angel Island, 1910-1940

By Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung
Fifth printing 2002, 174 pages, paperback.

Another returning favorite AACP featured book!

Island is one of the most compelling books on the subject of the Angel Island immigration and detention center. The book is comprised of poems, both in English and Chinese, left behind on the walls of this facility. Included with these poems are interviews with surviving immigrant detainees and a short history chapter with pictures. Island is a revealing snapshot of the Chinese immigration experience in America during the early 20th century.

View Additional Information
ORDER -- Item #1264, Normally $19.95

Copyright © 2007 by Asian American Curriculum Project, Inc. (a non-profit organization since 1970)
All poems are copyrighted by the authors and are not to be reused without permission from AACP and the authors.
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