I have a long history of communication with Wang Ping, who has had an instructive and fascinating life between China and the United States. She has been remarkably creative with her time here and her expanding understanding of the American nation and the N. American continent. My own work, especially in recent years, has often been focused on the North American landscape—its mountains and deserts, its farmlands, and the remarkable mixed forest landscape of the East and South. I often am sorry to see how little most Americans know or care about North America, so Wang Ping’s work with the Mississippi River and with other aspects of the American landscape, through her AWP award-winning book Life of Miracles along the Yangtze and Mississippi, was totally refreshing and important.
Every day is different. Every row is different. Every stroke is different.
Nothing stays the same. Every day, the Mississippi. Every day, a different river.
Wang Ping is a poet by profession and a rower by routine.
She sees a deep connection in these things. Flow. Rhythm. Cadence.
—John Branch, “A Long Shining River of Verse, Flowing from a Rower and Writer,” NYT
“We have poetry—words with wings,” Wang Ping declares in The River Within. Ping’s “words with wings” render the vitality of natural forces through corporeal experience. Her love poems extol life forms as varied as elephants, cephalopods, and the virus. Ancient, sentient memory is excavated to tie us to Earth, to be mindful of Earth’s pulse and our heartbeats. At the center of this sublime collection is the stunning extended poem “How a Droplet Becomes a Tsunami: Field Notes from Standing Rock” that recalls the years-long oil pipeline protest, the history of Sioux genocide, and a consequential canoe trip that led to the Kinship of Rivers project. With precision and pathos, Wang Ping follows the pipeline account as it flows into the story of rivers, of water, drop by droplet. This is a book to be savored.
—Martine Bellen, author of An Anatomy of Curiosity
Since her first book of poetry, Flesh and Spirit, Wang Ping has been a major moral and spiritual force in American letters. As one who “opens secrecy” and tells the truth, she joins with poets like Gary Snyder, who see and speak directly, on the side of nature. Her model of consciousness: the cephalopod, which thinks with its limbs. As she writes in the poem, “Magic,” “This is the sound of magic / running through our veins / Moving the sky and earth / Passing though us like rivers / All the noise on earth will die / But not this silence of faith / The innocence persisting to believe / To see more than can be seen.” A founder of Kinship of Rivers, she is doing the good work of saving us. One strategy: a crown of river sonnets of nearly perfect formality.
—Paul Hoover, Editor of Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology
"Wang Ping has become an old master. The River Within is a poetry of integrity, of virtue, of power, of love, of wisdom, of the way. The River Within is a new masterpiece of world literature."