Shin Yu Pai's new collection of poems, AUX ARCS, is rooted in the Ozarks but makes arches and connections across the globe. In taut, luminous lines, she explores cross-cultural tensions and digs ever deeper to claim ‘the warmth of metaphoric stone hollowed out from the body's beryl.’
In poems both brilliant and spacious, Shin Yu Pai creates a language to inhabit the in-between places of the world and imagination. An apple might be the spoils of urban foraging or a childhood memory—a persimmon might be a domestic failure or an expression of enlightenment. As large as international politics, as small as the death of a cat, these poems work the metaphoric connection at the root of poetry.
A good tour guide is one who is curious about her surroundings, enjoying as much the learning about new things as she does sharing the information with others. Thus we find the perfect guide in Shin Yu Pai, who maps a centuries-long tour, in AUX ARCS, of China, Chile, South Africa and other locations through a residency in the United States’ Deep South. From Arkansas and Texas, the poet shines a global light on the geographic monoliths of the natural world and the manmade marvels of architecture and visual art, just as she illuminates humanity’s interior motivations and misconceptions of the “other.” As temporary voyeurs, readers follow Pai’s keen eye and ear through a structure wide in arc but sharp in focus. Aux Arcs is a book you’ll want to visit, like the best museums, again and again, letting the ideas and images of prior reads inform and enhance your future tours.
(La Alameda, 2013)
Reviews of AUX ARCS
- Paul Constant in The Stranger
- John Keene in The Volta
- Kristina Marie Darling in Colorado Review
- Gerry McFarland in Poets Quarterly
- Nina Huang in Northwest Asian Weekly
- Sima Rabinowitz in New Pages