Poetry. Literary Nonfiction. This is a book of translation about translating. Red Pine has revisited the poems first translated by Ezra Pound in his Cathay, renewed them through his own experience of language and culture, and attached an important essay about the art of translating. In his own words: "Soon after I printed the first version of this chapbook, I gave a copy to William Merwin. He told me he visited Pound when he was incarcerated at St. Elizabeths. Like Pound, Merwin made up his mind when he was quite young that he was going to be a poet, and he asked Pound for advice. Pound told him, 'If you want to be a poet, a good poet, learn to translate.' Happily, Merwin took his advice. Translators work in the middle ground, between languages, and that ground can be as vast—or narrow—as the translator's vision. Of course, trying to convince others of the validity of that vision isn't easy. But it's no reason not to try. In the Fall of 2004, I was invited to take part in a conference on Chinese poetry at Simmons College in Boston. The organizer, Afaa Weaver, asked me to say something about how I went about my work. I had never given it any thought. I just did it. But I agreed it was time to say something, and I wrote the short piece that I've appended to the end of this chapbook. I don't know how other people do it, but when I translate, I see someone on the dancefloor I can't resist joining, but I'm deaf. I don't hear the music. I only see the dancer, dancing."
Bill Porter, who translates under the name Red Pine, was born in Califoria and grew up in Northern Idaho. He attended Columbia University and studied with a faculty that included Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict. He became interested in Buddhism, and in 1972 he left America and moved to a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. During this time, he married a Chinese woman, with whom he has two children, and he began working on translations of Chinese poetry and Buddhist texts. In 1993, he returned to America so that his children could learn English. For the past twenty years, he has worked as an independent scholar and has supported himself from book royalties and lecture fees. During this time, he has lectured at many of the major universities in the US, England and Germany where he has lectured on Chinese history, culture, poetry, and religion. His translations of texts dealing with these subjects have been honored with a number of awards, including two NEA translation fellowships, a PEN translation award, the inaugural Asian Literature Award of the American Literary Translators Association, a Guggenheim Fellowship, which he received to support work on a book based on a pilgrimage to the graves and homes of China's greatest poets of the past, which was published under the title Finding Them Gone in January of 2016, and more recently in 2018 the Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation bestowed by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His translations include ZEN ROOTS: THE FIRST THOUSAND YEARS (Empty Bowl, 2020), WHY NOT PARADISE (Empty Bowl, 2019), STONEHOUSE'S POEMS FOR ZEN MONKS (Empty Bowl, 2019), CATHAY REVISITED (Empty Bowl, 2019), A DAY IN THE LIFE (Empty Bowl, 2018), P'U MING'S OXHERDING PICTURES AND VERSE (Empty Bowl, 2015), and more.
Author City: PORT TOWNSEND, WA USA