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)

Things We Carry on the Sea

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

We carry dust of our families and neighbors incinerated in mushroom clouds

We carry our islands sinking under the sea

We carry our hands, feet, bones, hearts and best minds for a new life

We carry diplomas: medicine, engineer, nurse, education, math, poetry, even if they mean nothing to the other shore

We carry railroads, plantations, laundromats, bodegas, taco trucks, farms, factories, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, temples…built on our ancestors’ backs

We carry old homes along the spine, new dreams in our chests

We carry yesterday, today and tomorrow

We’re orphans of the wars forced upon us

We’re refugees of the sea rising from industrial wastes

And we carry our mother tongues
爱(ai),حب  (hubb), ליבע (libe), amor, love

平安 (ping’an), سلام ( salaam), shalom, paz, peace 

希望(xi’wang), أمل (’amal), hofenung, esperanza, hope, hope, hope

As we drift…in our rubber boats…from shore…to shore…to shore…

Originally published in New American Poetry. Copyright © 2018 by Wang Ping. Used with the permission of the author.

Originally published in New American Poetry. Copyright © 2018 by Wang Ping. Used with the permission of the author.

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

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

poem

 

Do not move. Let me speak of a river in paradise
A turquoise gift from fiery stars that is paradise

How do you measure a river’s weight, color, smell, touch?
How do you feel the veins of sand in a breathing paradise?

Eons of earth story, long before rocks, plants or bones
Bulging

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