Seattle Office of Arts & Culture Selects 2023-2024 Seattle Civic Poet Shin Yu Pai

The Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (ARTS) in partnership with the Seattle City of Literature announces the selection of Shin Yu Pai as the incoming 2023-2024 Seattle Civic Poet. Pai is the fourth Civic Poet in the program’s history.

2023-2024 Seattle Civic Poet Shin Yu Pai; Photo by James McDaniel

The Seattle Civic Poet is a two-year residency and serves as a literary ambassador for Seattle. As Civic Poet Shin Yu Pai will serve as a cultural ambassador for Seattle’s rich, multi-hued literary landscape and will represent Seattle’s diverse cultural community.

The newly commissioned 2023-2024 Seattle Civic Poet Shin Yu Pai is a local, seasoned poet who brings a range of experience, connections, and sector knowledge to the Civic Poet commission. She is a published writer, leader, manager, curator, and moderator both on a solo basis and with a myriad of Seattle creative and community organizations.”

royal alley-barnes, Acting Director, Office of Arts & Culture

“As the first Asian American poet to serve in the Civic Poet role, I’m excited to collaborate with the diversity of Seattle’s cultural communities to create projects that celebrate expressions of poetry throughout our city. I see this opportunity as a powerful platform to amplify the work of the many talented poets living and working here together in our City of Literature. As the former Poet Laureate of The City of Redmond, I worked with the city to develop poetry-based public art projects and elevated poetry through curated public programming and outdoor activation of public spaces. I can’t wait to do the same for Seattle, and more.”

Shin Yu Pai

The role fosters community dialogue and engagement between the City, the public, and other artists, while celebrating the literary arts. Previous Civic Poets include Jordan Imani Keith (2019-22), Anastacia-Renee Tolbert (2017-19), and Claudia Castro Luna (2015-17).

Shin Yu Pai is a Seattle-based poet and the author of 11 books, including most recently Virga (Empty Bowl, 2021). She is the recipient of awards from the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, 4Culture, and The Awesome Foundation. She is a 2022 Artist Trust Fellow and was shortlisted in 2014 for a Stranger Genius Award in Literature. From 2015 to 2017, Shin Yu served as Poet Laureate for The City of Redmond. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in Atlas Obscura, Tricycle Magazine, YES! Magazine, NYTimes, Zocalo Public Square, Seattle Met, ParentMap, Seattle’s Child, International Examiner, and South Seattle Emerald. Her work has appeared in publications throughout the US, Japan, China, Taiwan, the UK, and Canada.

Shin Yu is the writer, host, and producer of The Blue Suit – a podcast on Asian American stories for KUOW Public Radio, Seattle’s NPR affiliate station. The Blue Suit launched in July 2022 and is currently in production for a second season, which will begin releasing episodes in May 2023.

New poetry books are forthcoming in 2023 from Empty Bowl Press and Blue Cactus Press.

Launched in 2015, the Seattle Civic Poet program is inspired by the previous Poet Populist program instituted in 1999 by former Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata. The goal of the Poet Populist program was to support the practice of literary arts, and democracy, and to promote local literary arts organizations to a general audience citywide. The Poet Populist program was discontinued in 2008. The Civic Poet program continues the legacy of the Poet Populist program by fostering community dialogue and engagement between the public and artists while celebrating the literary arts.

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