March 4, 2020 “Honolulu Chinatown circa 1900: Poems” by Wing-Tek Lum

Wing-Tek Lum 030420

The Center for Korean Studies co-sponsors with the Center for Chinese Studies and the UH Department of East Asian Languages and Literature:

"Interdisciplinary Faculty Dialogue-- “Honolulu Chinatown circa 1900: Poems” by Wing-Tek Lum

on Wednesday March 4, 12 noon – 1:30 pm, Moore Hall 109.

The speaker says:

“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, telling the everyday stories of our pioneer generation of Chinese immigrants here. Totaling so far about 50 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.”


Faculty interlocutor David Krolikoski is assistant professor of Korean literature at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa. His research interests include modern Korean poetry, translation studies, poetics, postcolonial theory, and transnational literature. Currently, Krolikoski is preparing his manuscript, tentatively titled
"Lyrical Translation: The Creation of Modern Poetic Language in Colonial Korea," for publication.

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