Thursday 7 pm, March 23 - reading and slide presentation. Bill will read from his most recent book Finding Them Gone based on a pilgrimage to the graves and homes of China’s greatest poets of the past.
He will also share a slide presentation of a more recent pilgrimage involving the poet Ezra Pound.
Bill Porter was born in Van Nuys, California in 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 SF 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, and the inaugural Asian Literature Award of the American Literary Translators Association. More recently he received 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.