Red Pine is one of the world’s finest translators of Chinese poetic and religious texts. His new anthology, Dancing with the Dead: The Essential Red Pine, gathers over thirty voices from the ancient Chinese past—including Buddhist poets Cold Mountain (Hanshan) and Stonehouse (Shiwu), as well as Tang-dynasty luminaries Wei Yingwu and Liu Zongyuan. Featuring a preface by National Book Award winner Ha Jin and selected translations of Chinese poetry ranging from Red Pine’s earliest work (1983) to his forthcoming work on Tao Yuanming, the anthology is filled with insight, humor, and musicality that continues to resonate thousands of years later.
Throughout the book, poems are accompanied by footnotes providing historical context, and each section includes a new and illuminating introduction chronicling Red Pine’s relationship to the poet—discovery, travel, scholarship. Dancing With The Dead is more than a book, it is a journey: part travel essay, part road map, part guided meditation. It is a history translated into a poem.