Guide to Capturing a Plum Blossom

Sung Po-jen, Bill Porter (Red Pine), trans.

First published in AD 1238, Guide to Capturing a Plum Blossom is considered the world’s earliest-known printed art book. This bilingual edition contains the one hundred woodblock prints from the 1238 edition and calligraphic Chinese poems, alongside graceful translations and illuminating commentaries by esteemed translator Red Pine.

Paperback: $16.00 list price

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Hardcover $29.99 list price

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ISBN: 9781556593789

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781556595578

Format: Hardcover

Crane on a Pine Crying to Heaven

waking from a Red Cliff dream

black robe soaked with rain

trying to reach Heaven’s ear

it stands atop a pine

About the Author

Sung Po-jen was a native of the Huchou area of Chekiang province. His sobriquet was Ch’i-chih, and his pen name was Hsueh-yen, both of which had patriotic echoes in Chinese. After passing the poetry section of the civil service examination, he was appointed to supervise the salt trade in Huaiyang along the Grand Canal. Although we have no dates for his birth or death, we know Sung lived in southern China in the first half of the thirteenth century, when …

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About the Translator

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 …

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“Red Pine’s out-of-the-mainstream work is canny and clearheaded, and it has immeasurably enhanced Zen/Taoist literature and practice.” —Kyoto Journal

“I agree with the publisher of the 1261 edition. You enjoy this book the way you enjoy sugar cane: ‘the longer you chew, the better it tastes.’” —Frederick Franck, author of The Zen of Seeing and Zen Seeing, Zen Drawing

“To really listen to the music or the poetry of another is to empty the mind, or to have a pure mind, able to reflect the true experience. The mountain hermit/poets of Tang Dynasty China describe a pure, distilled and immediate grasp of reality. Red Pine’s translations allow us an undistorted access to this experience.” –Dragon’s Mouth