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About this poet

Wang Ping was born in August 14, 1957, in Shanghai, China, during the Cultural Revolution. She received her BA in English literature from Beijing University in 1984 and immigrated to the United States in 1985. Ping received her MA in English literature from Long Island University two years later. It was at Long Island University, when she accidentally walked into a creative writing class, that Ping started writing poetry, stories, and novels. She went on to receive her PhD in comparative literature from New York University in 1999.

Ping’s poetry collections include Ten Thousand Waves (Wings Press, 2014), The Magic Whip (Coffee House Press, 2003), and Of Flesh & Spirit (Coffee House Press, 1998). Ping’s poetry speaks to the interweaving of two cultures—Chinese and American—and what occurs at the sometimes stark and violent intersection of two different sets of languages, traditions, and histories. Ping, who explores her Chinese ancestry, identity, and matters of eroticism and gender in her work, has also authored short story collections, novels, works in translation, and academic texts that tackle these themes. Her nonfiction book Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China (University of Minnesota Press, 2000) won the Eugene Kayden Award for the Best Book in Humanities, and her short story collection The Last Communist Virgin (Coffee House Press, 2007) won the 2008 Minnesota Book Award and Asian American Studies Award.

Ping’s other awards include fellowships from the Bush Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is also the founder of the Kinship of Rivers project, which aims to raise environmental awareness and bring the communities along the Yangtze and Mississippi rivers together through interdisciplinary arts.

Ping is currently an associate professor at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Ten Thousand Waves (Wings Press, 2014)
The Magic Whip (Coffee House Press, 2003)
Of Flesh & Spirit (Coffee House Press, 1998)

Fiction

The Last Communist Virgin (Coffee House Press, 2007)
Foreign Devil (Coffee House Press, 1996)
American Visa (Coffee House Press, 1994)

Nonfiction

Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China (University of Minnesota Press, 2000)

Tsunami Chant

I'm not a singer, but please
let me sing of the peacemakers
on the streets and internet, your candles
in this darkest moment of night,
your bodies on the steps of government buildings,
your voices from the roots of grasses and trees,
from your pit of conscience.

I'm not a prayer, but please,
please give my voice to the children
in Baghdad, Basra, Afghanistan,
and every other bombed-out place on earth,
your crying out in pain and fear;
please give my hands to the mothers
raking through rubble for food, bodies;
my sight to the cities and fields in smoke;
my tears to the men and women who are brought
home in bags; and please give my ears
to those who refuse to hear the explosions,
who tune only to censored news, official words.

I'm not a citizen, but please
count my vote against the belief
that the American way is the only way,
count it against the blasphemy of freedom,
against a gang of thugs who donned crowns
on their own heads, who live for power
and power only, whose only route is
to deceive and loot, whose mouths move
only to crush, whose hands close
only into a grave.

I'm not a worshiper, but please
accept my faith in those
who refuse to believe in painted lies,
refuse to join this chorus of supreme hypocrisy,
refuse to sell out, to let their conscience sleep,
wither, die. Please accept my faith
in those who cross the bridge for peace,
only to be cursed and spat upon, but keep crossing
anyway, every Wednesday, in rain and snow,
and my faith in those who camp out night after night,
your blood thawing the frozen ground,
your tents flowers of hope in this bleak age.

I don't possess a bomb, don't know
how to shoot or thrust a sword.
All I have is a broken voice,
a heart immense with sorrow.
But please, please take them,
let them be part of this tsunami
of chanting, this chant of awakening.

Copyright © 2003 by Wang Ping. From The Magic Whip (Coffee House Press, 2003). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database

Copyright © 2003 by Wang Ping. From The Magic Whip (Coffee House Press, 2003). Reprinted from Split This Rock’s The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database

Wang Ping

Wang Ping

Wang Ping is a poet and fiction writer whose work often speaks to the interweaving of two cultures—Chinese and American—and what occurs at the sometimes stark and violent intersection of two different sets of languages, traditions, and histories.

by this poet

poem

We carry tears in our eyes: good-bye father, good-bye mother

We carry soil in small bags: may home never fade in our hearts

We carry names, stories, memories of our villages, fields, boats

We carry scars from proxy wars of greed

We carry carnage of mining, droughts, floods, genocides

poem

What more can you say
Nomad daughter of glaciers?
City has bleached the sun from your face
18 years old with a freckled nose
Hides of yak, barley, sandy wind
Knees stiff from scrubbing toilets
What dreams keep you alive
On the marble floor of Gangkar Hotel?

Drunken tourists

poem

“Oh no, not with your syntax,” said H.V. to her daughter-in-law, a Chinese writing poetry in English

She walk to table
She walks to a table

She walk to table now
She is walking to a table now

What difference it make