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Dancing with the Dead: Red Pine and the Art of Translation

August 11 @ 12:00 pm

The Roxie Theater together with City Lights, Copper Canyon Press, and the San Francisco Zen Center present

Dancing with the Dead: Red Pine and the Art of Translation

A Film by Ward Serrill
Produced by Rocky Friedman

California Premiere and Special Event

Tickets available through The Roxie Theater. Link to be posted soon.

Event includes:
-California Premiere of film
-Q and A with Director Ward Serrill
-Performance by singer Spring Cheng
-Moderated conversation with Red Pine (moderator TBD)
-Book signing follows (will be a few doors down from theater) hosted by City Lights

Filmmaker Ward Serrill (The Heart of the Game; The Bowmakers) presents DANCING WITH THE DEAD, on Port Townsend’s Bill Porter. Porter, who goes by the pen name Red Pine, is a renowned translator of ancient Chinese poetry. He has published over thirty books, including Road to Heaven, his quest to find hermits in the Zhongnan Mountains that reignited a movement in modern China to seek enlightenment through poetry and mountain solitude. Bill is a living gateway to ancient Chinese history and culture.

The film follows Bill’s adventures as a child of a bank robber, raised in a gilded household, who turned his back on American devotion to materialism and went off to live in monasteries and mountains in Taiwan. He pursued a fascination with Buddhism and poetry and traveled to remote regions of China to rediscover an ancient tradition of mountain hermits vital to Chinese culture.

Watch the event trailer here.

City Lights carries a full selection of Red Pine’s books. Visit this link.

About Red Pine (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.

The City Lights Foundation supports this program.


City Lights
261 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133 United States
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