Exhibition Talk: Bill Porter Poetry Reading

Thursday, October 13
101 Spring Street
New York, NY

Judd Foundation is pleased to present a reading by poet and translator Bill Porter (Red Pine) on the ground floor of 101 Spring Street. The reading is hosted in conjunction with David Novros – Paintings. Among Porter’s many translations from Chinese is Poems of the Masters: China’s Classic Anthology of T’ang and Sung Dynasty Verse (Copper Canyon Press, 2003) which features the work of over a hundred poets including Li Pai, Wang Wei, Tu Fu, Wang Po, and Ou-yang Hsiu.

The reading, which will focus on poems that feature ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes,’ will be introduced by poet and translator, Lynn Xu, Assistant Professor of Writing at Columbia University and author of And Those Ashen Heaps That Cantilevered Vase of Moonlight (Wave Books, 2022), and the co-translator of Pee Poems by Lao Yang (Circumference Books, 2022).

This event is free and open to the public. Seats are on available on a first-come, first-served basis.

As Novros noted in a recent interview:

I first became interested in T’ang poetry in the early 70’s because a lot of the content was about coming and going–being itinerant–giving up a life of success in the court to pursue a rigorous study. During their travels, these poets were able to retain friendships with their fellows. I was very moved by that. A lot of their poems are “hellos” and “goodbyes.”

This theme is reflected in the poem “Seeing Off a Friend” translated by Porter from the original by Li Pai and included in Poems of the Masters:

Dark hills stretch beyond the north rampart
clear water circles the city’s east wall
from this place where farewell begins
a tumbleweed leaves on a thousand-mile journey
drifting clouds in a traveler’s thoughts
the setting sun in an old friend’s heart
as we wave and say goodbye
our parting horses neigh

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About Bill Porter

Bill Porter assumes the pen name Red Pine for his translation work. He was born in Los Angeles in 1943, grew up in the Idaho Panhandle, served a tour of duty in the US Army, graduated from the University of California with a degree in anthropology, and attended graduate school at Columbia University. Uninspired by the prospect of an academic career, he dropped out of Columbia and moved to a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. After four years with the monks and nuns, he struck out on his own and eventually found work at English-language radio stations in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where he interviewed local dignitaries and produced more than a thousand programs about his travels in China. His translations have been honored with a number of awards, including two NEA translation fellowships, a PEN Translation Prize, and the inaugural Asian Literature Award of the American Literary Translators Association. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship 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. More recently, Porter received the 2018 Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation bestowed by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

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