ANGEL ISLAND Immigrants left their marks: Poems were carved into the Bay

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The California state Parks Department and a nonprofit foundation have begun a $50 million project to restore Angel Island's Imigration Station during an era when it was U.S. government policy to drastically limit the number of Chinese and Asian immigrants.

Hundreds of heartfelt poems were carved into the walls by those detained there. As much as anything, it will be the poems that provide a window into the station's past.

"Here, we actually have talking walls," said Erika Gee, director of education for the San Francisco-based Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, which is raising private funds for the project.

Some of the poems were written with pencil or brush nearly 100 years ago. Others were carved using a classical Chinese technique, deep into the wooden walls -- most likely by a professional carver. Many of the poems were written in the Tang dynasty style of regulated verse and couplets.

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