We are excited to announce that the award-winning poet, Wing Tek Lum ‘74—author of Expounding the Doubtful Points, What the Kite Thinks, and The Nanjing Massacre: Poems—will be on the Union campus on Tuesday, July 10, to read from his poetry and to share lunch and conversation with students, faculty, staff, alumni/ae, neighbors and friends of the Seminary.
This event is sponsored by the Office of Alumni/ae Relations and the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Caucus.
Please RSVP to Emily Odom by Monday, July 9, if you plan to attend, so that we may order sufficient cookies and beverages for the gathering. Please bring your own lunch.
Statement by Wing Tek Lum for Association for Asian American Studies Panel 2018
In 2012, I published The Nanjing Massacre: Poems (Bamboo Ridge), recreating this historical event— when Japan invaded China in 1937, ultimately wreaking havoc on the capital and its surrendering military defenders and civilian inhabitants. Through my 104 narrative poems I wanted to describe what those involved, both victims and perpetrators, experienced on a human scale, imagining what James Wood has called “the plausibly hypothetical.”
Since then I have been working on a new series about life in Honolulu Chinatown at the turn of the last century. Totaling so far 25 poems, they describe the experiences of a variety of different Pake: the physical separations sometimes spanning lifetimes of single men in Hawaii and their families back in the villages; the hard work of fishermen and laundry workers, as well as Chinese prostitutes with their “100 husbands”; the intermarriage between Chinese and native Hawaiians and the responses of their respective families and friends; and the racist-inspired circumstances leading up to the Chinatown Fire of 1900.
These are meant to be unique stories about unique individuals in a unique community at a unique time. Nonetheless, while not overt, I hope that my sharing of them can offer some perspective and commentary on contemporary challenges we face regarding immigration, and the effects on immigrants’ homelands and host communities.