I know you as a poet. When I was preparing for this interview, I was delighted to learn that poetry is only a part of what you do: Writer, novelist, teacher, dancer, multi-media artist, and co-creator of the kinship of rivers project. Which of the many arts that you participate in came first?
I walked into a wrong class at LIU Brooklyn in 1987, and it turned out to be a creative writing class taught by Lewis Warsh. I sat down and tried my first story, and Lewis wrote on it: You should start writing a novel about China. It opened a new world for me. I realized I had a story to tell. Then Lewis introduced me to Allen Ginsberg, who was seeking a translator for his America China Poetry Festival in 1988. I worked with Allen for half a year, and started writing poetry. So that one wrong class led me to the path of writing: poetry, story, novel, essays.
In St. Paul, I met a photographer who put a digital camera into my hands before my trip to China, and asked me to bring some photos for him. I took a few, and he picked out one photo, said this is good. He explained why it was a good image, and I got hooked. In 2012, I started a kinship of rivers project, and started multi-medium work: writing, photography, film installation art.
Read the full interview with Wang Ping in The Blue Mountain Review, December 2022