Elliott Bay Book Company

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Shin Yu Pai

Seattle Civic Poet Shin Yu Pai has authored 11 books and won numerous awards for her writing. She also hosts Ten Thousand Things, a podcast about Asian American life for local NPR affiliate KUOW.

A portrait of Shin Yu Pai

Shin Yu Pai– Arzente Fine Art

Where can I experience literature in Seattle?

I really like the poetry reading series at Common Area Maintenance gallery (2125 Second Ave) in Belltown, which is organized by two curators, Deborah Woodard and Matthew Trease. It’s a monthly series that brings local and out-of-town poets together to share their work, and it’s very contemporary, often experimental, work that’s a little bit more cutting edge. I am a big fan of Elliott Bay Books (1521 10th Ave), which just turned 50 years old. Open Books: A Poem Emporium (108 Cherry St) has been a Seattle institution for many years. They are an exclusively poetry bookstore, which is pretty rare.

What are some unexpected ways to dive into the local arts scene?

I am a big lover of public arts and visual arts. Some of my favorite spaces in Seattle include the Chapel of St. Ignatius (901 12th Ave) at Seattle University, which was built by Steven Holl; Freeway Park (700 Seneca St), built by Lawrence Halprin; and Light Reign, at the James Turrell Skyspace at Henry Art Gallery (15th Ave NE and NE 41st St). Another venue I love is The Rabbit Box (94 Pike St) in Pike Place Market—I sometimes go there to see spoken-word performances.

What makes Seattle welcoming to people from all backgrounds?

The living history here with anchor institutions like Wing Luke Museum (719 S King St) and the Chinatown–International District is really quite extraordinary. I think contributions of Asian immigrants to the region are very felt.

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