Bill porter/red pine
Bill Porter, who translated under the name Red Pine, was born in Van Nuys, California on October 3, 1943 and grew up in Northern Idaho, where his parents moved in 1954. Since his father was often away on business, he attended boarding schools in LA and the Bay Area, where he graduated from high school in 1961. After a tour of duty in the US Army 1964-67, he attended UC Santa Barbara and majored in Anthropology. In 1970, he entered graduate school at Columbia University and studied anthropology with a faculty that included Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict. While he was living in New York, he became interested in Buddhism, and in 1972 he left America and moved to a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. After more than three years with the monks and nuns, he struck out on his own and supported himself by teaching English and later by working as a journalist at English-language radio stations in Taiwan and Hong Kong. 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, and he has lived ever since in Port Townsend, Washington.
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.
Red Pine’s latest book can be found in our store: