FOCS Parent Spotlight: Shin Yu Pai, Poet
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.
at the National Palace Museum
with visitors who’ve come
incised with oracle
the jade cabbage,
bok choy hewn
revered among artists
the young concubine
a father’s blessing to
to increase the virtue
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 http://shinyupai.com.
Some links to Shin Yu Pai’s work:
Pai is also covered in the ethnic media/for AAPI-specific publications:
Great work, Shin Yu, looking forward to seeing more in the future!