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.
William CorbettPoet and Art Critic / Pressed Wafer
Shin Yu Pai matches a painter’s grasp of the materiality of things with the poet’s trick of arranging word 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.
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.
Bin RamkePoet and Editor of Denver Quarterly
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.
Karl YoungPoet and Publisher / Light and Dust
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.
(La Alameda, 2003)
Reviews of Equivalence