FOCS IV in review


Spring 2014

waddler dance time with Shanetta at Jaam Rek Studios, formerly Hidmo
discussion themes of FOCS IV mom gatherings: To sleep train or not, massaging babies for attachment, how we met our partners, Midwest MN- Chicago- Kansas connections, returning to work on our own terms, single moms & not marrying partners, racist and non-inclusive learning environments, hand washing cloth diapers, white privilege, colorism, code switching multi-lingual families, blond children of brown parents, Taiwanese immigrant kind of love, Mexican grandmas, Americans don’t hold babies, Northend play areas, Waldorf & Reggio, Filipino church & community, creating a FOCS family center & non-profit!  

FOCS Parent Spotlight: Shin Yu Pai, Poet


PicturePhoto by Daniel Carrillo

By Carolyn Kim Corcoro, mom to 14mo son.  FOCS moms and dads are made up of a community of artists, entrepreneurs, activists, professionals, and stay-at-home single parents. From time to time, we will showcase one of our (many) amazing parents.Shin Yu Pai is featured in our first FOCS Parent Spotlight! She joins FOCS with her husband, Kort Bergman, and their 7-month old son, Tomo.

Q: What do you enjoy about FOCS?

A: I enjoy the opportunities that FOCS creates to meet and socialize with other mixed-race families. I moved back to Seattle after living in the South for several years, after realizing that I wanted to start a family with my husband in a place that could not only be hospitable, but nurturing, supportive, and tolerant. It was very important to us to establish ourselves in a place where our  mixed-race children could feel embraced and celebrated, instead of just curiosities. We wanted to be closer to a community of people that we could feel had similar experiences and values, that could better support not only our dreams, but our day-to-day lives, in the context of our lived values. I have found that in FOCS, in the community of thoughtful and intentional artists and social activists who are drawn to the group. I look forward to getting to know more FOCS families and though I haven’t been able to be as involved in the group as I would like to be, I feel the open-heartedness and closeness of the families and the deep sense of welcome. The space that people hold in the group for one another, that Amy has been instrumental in creating.

Q: What is the ethnic make-up of your baby?

A: Tomo is half Taiwanese and Caucasian. My parents immigrated from Taiwan, and though our family and roots are ethnically Chinese, we identify as being Taiwanese. My husband grew up in Dallas, Texas, and his parents are descended from Swedes and a mix of European ethnicities.

Q: You said you’ve been working on writings of motherhood lately. Can you share with us some of your recent or older work on the theme of family? 

A: “Brassica Chinensis” is from my book Adamantine (White Pine, 2010). It is poem that brings together many themes that are present throughout my larger body of writing and work – an engagement with the visual arts, stories, identity, culture, family, tradition. The piece is inspired by a work of art – in this case, a beloved small hand-carved relic made by an anonymous artist in the collections of a museum in Taiwan – my parents’ native land. The poem explores the hidden or untold stories of  that object and gives that jade artifact a voice. The story of that object is rooted in cultural values and family and reflects something of the heart and spirit of a personal experience mirrored back through the artwork itself as a vehicle of contemplation and vessel of meaning. 

Brassica Chinensis

at the National Palace Museum
an hour before closing
the galleries are full

with visitors who’ve come
to view preserved plastrons
under glass, turtle shells

incised with oracle
markings – I ask my guide
what must not be missed

the jade cabbage,
she utters

nature mort
two red katydids rest
on a three-inch tall

bok choy hewn
from a single piece
of stone, material

revered among artists
for its quality
of transparency

the young concubine
who surrendered the nephrite
carving – symbol of

a father’s blessing to
his favorite child –
passed over

to increase the virtue
of an elder sister’s
marriage dowry

When not writing poetry, Shin Yu works full-time as Chief Operating Officer for the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA). Pai is also a freelance arts and culture writer for the International Examiner, NW Asian Weekly, Ballard News Tribune, and Seattle Globalist.  She lives in Ballard with her husband Kort Bergman, an acupuncturist who is currently the primary caregiver for Tomo, their 7-month-old son. The couple has been married since 2005 and met at Naropa University, where they were both students in the late 90s. Learn more about Shin Yu on her website

Some links to Shin Yu Pai’s work:
City Arts profile
Stranger review of AUX ARCS
Review of AUX ARCS by Seattle poet Gerry McFarland
Ballard News Tribune profile

Pai is also covered in the ethnic media/for AAPI-specific publications:
Kartika Review interview
NW Asian Weekly review of AUX ARCS
Lantern Review write-up of Adamantine
Asian American Literature blog

Great work, Shin Yu, looking forward to seeing more in the future!