Race & Racism at the University of Richmond

Student Literature

Several Chinese students contributed their literary works to campus publications during their time at the University. The Messenger was established in 1878 and became the literary magazine of the University. Students had the opportunity to submit their work, and be recognized on a larger platform.

Poem "Nostalgia"

A poem written by Chack Kwong Wong in The Messenger, 1925

"Nostalgia"

This poem, by Chack Kwong Wong (R‘25), describes the poet's longing for home and feeling “alone in this foreign land.” Wong was a native of Canton (Guangzhou), and this piece provides insight into the potential feelings and reservations Wong and other Chinese students may have had regarding their new life at the University of Richmond. Nicknamed “Shorty” by his classmates, Wong was noted for his “good natured chuckle and sparkling eyes.” Wong’s yearbook page profiles his friendship and dedication to academics. Nostalgia serves as evidence of a possible sense of isolation or homesickness that was experienced by a Chinese student, mentioning a once-monthly letter arriving from home and a longing to return. 

 

 

 

Poems "First Love" and "Crossing"

Two poems written by Poon Kant Mok appear in the The Messenger, 1927

Poem "When Nothing Is Left"

Poon Kant Mok's poem, When Nothing Is Left, was published in the The Messenger, 1927

The Poetry of Poon Kant Mok

Three poems, "First Love," "Crossing," and “When Nothing is Left”,” were written by Poon Kant Mok (nicknamed “Mok” as a sophomore, and elsewhere referred to as Mok Poon Kant or Poon Lam Mok), and published in the 1927 Messenger. Mok was from Canton (Guangzhou), China, and sought a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. Mok was involved on campus as a member of the YMCA as well as the Chinese Club.

Brief in content, “First Love” poetically records two answers describing when the subjects first loved each other. The answers reveal that the beginning of love is a synergetic event. Similarly written in the first person, Mok’s poem "Crossing" describes a feeling of homesickness as the narrator travels to a new place. Mok describes having to make a trade for transportation across a river, hoping that the ferry operator will not take all of his belongings. This could potentially be a comparison to Mok's new life at Richmond and could represent his reaction to being immersed in a new community and culture. But the poem also closes by mentioning that within the narrator’s travel transaction, he has a desire to “keep something for the one on the yonder shore,” perhaps more literally signalling the sacrifices he is willing to make to see an important person.

Mok’s third poem, "When Nothing is Left", published in The Messenger, touches on themes of separation and loss. The subject of the poem is referred to as “Far-to-seek,” a now rare form of the expression “hard to find.” The poem reads as a send-off to a loved one who is beginning a journey away from the narrator. It is possible that the journey is a metaphor for death, as Mok writes, “my eyes following your dying figure.” Throughout the poem, the narrator resolves to let his “Far-to-seek” go on without him, concluding with the words “think not of me.”

Student Literature