David Hinton’s many translations emphasize the Taoist and Ch’an (Zen) Buddhist foundations of Chinese poetry and have earned wide acclaim for recreating the classical tradition as compelling contemporary poetry that conveys the actual texture and density of the originals. He is the first twentieth-century translator to translate the four seminal masterworks of Chinese philosophy: Tao Te Ching (2000), Mencius (1999), The Analects of Confucius (1998), and Chuang Tzu: Inner Chapters (1997). David’s honours include a Guggenheim Fellowship, numerous National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, and both of the major awards given for poetry translation in the United States: the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award (Academy of American Poets) and the PEN Translation Award (PEN American Center). In 1997 he won The Landon Translation Award for his three volumes published in 1996: The Selected Poems of Lí Po and Bei Dao’s Landscape Over Zero (both published by New Directions), and The Late Poems of Meng Chiao (Princeton).
David says, “Ancient Chinese poetry has been a major part of modern American poetry, providing an ancient tradition much more useful to the avant-garde than the traditions of the West, for they are rooted in a completely discredited worldview. I approach the ancients from this perspective, following Pound, Rexroth and Snyder. My intent is to translate the major poets of ancient China, and thereby create a new tradition of contemporary American poetry, a tradition with a coherent “voice” within which the distinct voices of individual poets are clear and consistent.” His books include translations of the ancient poets Tu Fu, Li Po, T’ao Ch’ien, Meng Chiao, Po Chü-i and Hsieh Ling-yün, as well as the contemporary poet Bei Dao, most notable representative of the Misty Poets, a group of Chinese poets who reacted against the restrictions of the Cultural Revolution.
David Hinton studied Chinese at Cornell University and in Taiwan. He has spent several years in France and currently lives in East Calais, Vermont as an independent scholar and writer.