Welcome to your museum — a place for poetry.
Practiced throughout history — in every culture and on every continent — poetry speaks to our common humanity and shared values. It builds bridges that bring people together. The simplest of poems can be a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace. In celebration of World Poetry Day, the Last Hoisan Poets share three poems written in response to the de Young’s architecture and public spaces.
Time flows through a crack
Hidden in the geography
To which life returns
March 3, 2023
© 2023 Genny Lim
A haiku written in response to Drawn Stone by Andy Goldsworthy.
crimson lantern flowers
canopy of trees
who hear voices soar
. . . . . nature’s family
Flo Oy Wong
March 4, 2023
© 2023 Flo Oy Wong
A poem written in response to the Marcus Garden of Enchantment, landscape architecture by Walter Hood, Hood Design Studio.
You enter through depths of ocean floor
meeting sky, bowl bottoms and moons, raindrops
becoming nature’s earrings, light transparent as heart.
You welcome ferns and eucalyptus inside, release air and breath
of courtyards and gardens.
Through floor-to-ceiling glass windows, workers and visitors integrating
vision, labor of saws and hammers, computers thrumming,
of copper turning green through the magic of nature.
Can this wandering on stone paths lead to embrace of eyes, of trees,
of winters and springs?
Can we sing or bellow against tyranny against earth, peoples
and creatures, our fish, toucans of bright beaks?
You wear your skin dappled with V’s of blue sky, contract
and expand, our breaths, this freedom we seek amid
children’s laughter, the posing of a black girl and a yellow* girl dancing
in liberation’s glare, the lover, in a wheelchair, of Asawa’s sculptural art.
Circling the grounds around the Pool of Enchantment, riding the elevator
for views of a city glistening in March’s pale light, then touching your skin, golden
and dark brown, the forest of Obata’s trees, you open
your thousand eyes, obsidian, free.
March 4, 2023
© 2023 Nellie Wong
Written in response to the de Young museum, designed by Herzog & de Meuron.
*Yellow used to be a term that was used to uplift a cohesive racial identity for Asian Americans, especially during the social movements of the 60s and 70s. Many Asian Americans still use it as a racial identity and others don‘t and find it offensive because of its connections to yellow peril.
Poets Genny Lim, Flo Oy Wong, and Nellie Wong trace their roots to China’s Hoisan villages, home of the Hoisan-wa (a.k.a., Toisanese / Taishanese) Chinese dialect. As the Last Hoisan Poets, they conduct special poetry readings in English and Hoisan-wa to pay homage to their mother language, which is at risk of fading from collective memory.
All photographs by Andi Wong.
Learn more at World Poetry Day with the Last Hoisan Poets.