Peter LevittPoet and Translator
The heart of these poems broke open even before this poet was born. Shin Yu Pai has maintained a practice to keep it this way, so that she and all of us might live in that open, compassionate field with neither boundary nor end. How wise of her to know that what is adamantine is the open heart. Fearless seeing, ancient mutterings on contemporary pathways and boulevards, inventive poetics, merciless memories and tender, knowing hands all take their proper place here, where she finds “every event a mirror / of mind & heart.” Her eyes will help you open what you’ve held onto too tightly, too long, and her heart will open the rest of you from the first word to the last.
Mike O’ConnorPoet and Publisher / Empty Bowl Books
The freshness, luster, and charm of these poems derive not only from a superb and seemingly easeful craftsmanship, but indelibly from a generous infusion of the poet’s good heart.
Carolyne WrightPoet and Translator
Shin Yu Pai’s new collection Adamantine bristles with taut, startling language that continues to yield surprises even after readers realize that they are at serious play within the fields of the human heart, a realm in which “we must know when to give in.” Diverse personae inhabit these poems, rendering insight into their traumas, sacrifices, and psychic pathos: from the ‘ruined man in a wheelchair’ strapped in place on a city bus; to the Chinese migrant worker who suffered a brain hemorrhage that left her comatose, and who was almost cremated alive because her family couldn’t afford her hospital care; to the Vietnamese Buddhist monk immolating himself in protest at Indochinese oppression, ‘his heart refusing to burn’–this line repeated thrice like a mantra or prayer. This is poetry of compassion and clarity that “sees past the icon” as the poet makes a journey to China to explore her own ambivalence toward ‘traditions that constitute / a personal inheritance.’ These poems, ‘incised with oracle / markings’ whose urgency is heightened in the poet’s ancestral legacy, both ‘crush illusion’ and take ‘the Buddha back to his origins.’ Reading these poems, we are gratified that the poet has ‘come / to make this offering’ of language to us.
Reviews of Adamantine
- Stephen Sohn in Lantern Review
- Cati Porter Inlandia Journal
- Clara Burns in Bombay Gin
- Vernon Ng in Hyphen Magazine
- Andrew Singer in Open Letters Monthly