Librarian Taryn Edwards has managed the activities for writers at the Mechanics’ Institute for twelve years. One of the writers she works with, Chun Yu, has found the pandemic to be particularly fruitful for her creative endeavors.
Taryn Edwards: Chun, tell me how you found out about the Mechanics’ Institute.
Chun Yu: I first discovered MI by attending literature and culture events with fellow writer friends some years ago. Then in 2017, when I finally became a member, it became my place to write.
Taryn Edwards: Prior to the pandemic I know you had a favorite spot on the 3rd floor! Tell me how MI has helped further your projects.
Chun Yu: Like many other members, I have my favorite spot in the library and many hours passed as I worked on various projects, from poetry to graphic novels. Not only does the library offer a sanctuary for my writing, but it has also offered important support for my career as a writer and my efforts in cultural connections and community building.
Taryn Edwards: I’m delighted to hear that – it is what MI is all about in my mind.
Chun Yu: Yes! The MI Library has hosted multiple events for me during the past few years, including poetry readings with other poets, the presentation of my graphic novel in progress on Chinese immigration history and stories with the support of the San Francisco Arts Commission’s individual artist grant, and my Two Languages/One Community project with poet Michael Warr connecting Chinese and African American communities with poetry writing and storytelling. I have also found great writers’ groups to work with during the past few years.
Taryn Edwards: The Mechanics’ Institute hosted you and Michael Warr for a very emotional event last September related to your Two Languages/One Community project. The video is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMGcyRifXac What else has happened in regards to this project?
Chun Yu: My poem "The Map 地圖” - one that I read during that event in September has been published by San Francisco's legendary Arion Press in English and Chinese as its spring broadside. The publication is dedicated to the Graduating Class of 2021, their families, and their teachers who have persevered through the greatest global pandemic in 100 years. It’s the first time Arion Press has published Chinese content.
Taryn Edwards: That’s so wonderful and MI is thrilled to cosponsor the event celebrating its publication.
Chun Yu: Yes, members of the Mechanics’ Institute are welcome to attend the free event at the Arion Press’ location in the Presidio. In addition to my poetry reading, I will be in conversation there with my collaborator Michael Warr about the importance of cross-cultural exchange and story-telling, especially in our time of great challenges. It’s a continuation of our solidarity event series (Two Languages/One Community project) to unite all people against anti-Asian violence and hatred.
Taryn Edwards: Wonderful – more details about the June 27 event are available on MI’s website here.
We are proud to have you as a member of the Mechanics’ Institute and thank you for your efforts to stop violence and discrimination and promote a peaceful and joyful creative exchange.
Chun Yu: Thank you! The Mechanics' Institute is a real gem of San Francisco which actually glows with a mysterious warm light whenever it comes to my mind. I look forward to visiting and working there again in person! Hope to see you on Sunday, June 27.
Note: The Library has expanded its hours to members. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, members are welcome to visit between 12-4 pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, members may visit between 2-6 pm. Appointments are not necessary.