Shin Yu Pai




6 x 9 inches

88 pages

Paper: 1-888809-41-8



Equivalence is the first major collection from poet Shin Yu Pai. Drawing its name from photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s series of cloud images, the poems in this collection explore connections and correspondences between poetry and the visual arts, Eastern and Western cultures, tradition and modernity, perpetual migration and the sense of home. In the course of this exploration, the poet is inspired by modern and contemporary artists such as Wolfgang Laib, Piet Mondrian, Joseph Cornell, Yoko Ono, and Felix-Gonzales-Torres.

Shin Yu Pai’s imagination is like a fine pottery bowl, delicately shaped but capable of holding many things: playfulness, candor, descriptive elegance. She is working out her own welcome blend of cultures, Eastern and Western, and Equivalence is the lovely and often challenging result.

—Rosellen Brown

Shin Yu Pai matches a painter’s grasp of the materiality of things with the poet’s trick of arranging words for maximum musical effect. She knows that in poetry it is the music that keeps in the mind what is seen. Her poems honor their imagist heritage by making it new.

—William Corbett

Shin Yu Pai’s voice is equal parts exciting, exuberant and elegant. Equivalence serves as a profound dual act of grace and wisdom. This poet has carved out a bold, wondrous space on our mountain, complete with unspeakable vistas that stretch clear toward the earth’s edge.

—Jim Behrle

What fascinates me most about Shin Yu Pai’s work is the sense that, while it is informed by various genres and various histories, what we encounter here is new, even “tentative” in the very old sense: that is, in the sense of being “an attempt,” but also “tempting.” There is an element of the daring in this work which gives a paradoxical authority to its language: a combination of humility, subtlety, and risk.

—Bin Ramke

As a poet, Shin Yu Pai shows exquisite skill in taking cues from artistic movements as diverse as Abstract Expressionism and paper making along the ancient Silk Road, performance arts as varied as those of Fluxus and the Japanese tea ceremony, spiritual traditions as diverse as those originating in centers stretching from Southern India to Japan. She delights not only in the creative and comic potential of anachronism but also the spatial counterpart of chronological disjunction. There are other poets in our milieu who can bring new art out of this kind of diversity, but few beside Ms. Pai can do so without being overwhelmed or conned or goaded into hyperbole. In her first book, she emerges as a poet highly skilled in the delicate adjustments of experience required by a chaotic world. In her view, a slap-stick play can emerge from the oddities of a Chinese-English phrase book as surely as the optimism of spilt milk can depend on the serenity that radiated from the Buddha as he raised his finger in a crowd. Shin Yu Pai’s sense of humor can appeal to many people - with luck, this will help elucidate her ability to measure a line of verse, and to find a sensitivity in life equal to her sensitivity to language.

—Karl Young

Equivalence is the recipient of a 2003 grant from the Cambridge Arts Council and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

Shin Yu Pai is a Taiwanese-American poet and photographer. A special edition letter-pressed, hand-bound chapbook, Paper Poems (working title), is forthcoming in Fall 2003 from Convivio Bookworks. A chapbook of her translations from ancient Chinese poetry, Ten Thousand Miles of Mountains and Rivers, was published in 1998 by Third Ear Books. Her work has appeared in literary and on-line journals including 580 Split, Spinning Jenny, Mungo vs Ranger, eye-rhyme, and can we have our ball back?. As a visual artist, her work has appeared in galleries throughout the Mid-West including Gallery 2 and The Three Arts Club of Chicago. A portfolio of her photography can be viewed at She has been awarded grants from the Cambridge Arts Council, the Union League Civic and Arts Foundation and the Puffin Foundation, in addition to residencies from The MacDowell Colony, The Ragdale Foundation, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Her one-act play Concave is the Opposite of Convex was given a staged reading at NY’s Theater 22 and the Park Theater in Union City, NJ, by The Hudson Exploited Theater Company’s Where Theater Starts Reading Series in 2001. Ms. Pai has taught creative writing for the Dallas Museum of Art, The Poetry Center of Chicago, Sojourner Feminist Institute, and Grub Street, Inc. She was a former poetry reviewer for and has contributed literary criticism to Rain Taxi Review of Books and Persimmon: A Journal of Asian Arts and Culture. She studied at The Naropa Institute and Boston University and received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She lives outside of Boston, Massachussetts.