Mike O’Connor is a poet and translator. He has published three volumes of his own poetry in addition to translating two volumes of the work of Buddhist poet Chia Tao. He lives in Port Townsend, Washington.
Books, Courses & Podcasts
The Clouds Should Know Me by Now
This unique collection presents the verse, much of it translated for the first time, of fourteen eminent Chinese Buddhist poet monks. Featuring the original Chinese as well as english translations and historical introductions by Burton Watson, J.P. Seaton, Paul Hansen, James Sanford, and the editors, this book provides an appreciation and understanding of this elegant and traditional expression of spirituality.
“So take a walk with…these cranky, melancholy, lonely, mischievous poet-ancestors. Their songs are stout as a pilgrim’s stave or a pair of good shoes, and were meant to be taken on the great journey.”—Andrew Schelling, from his Introduction
When I Find You Again, It Will Be in Mountains
Chia Tao (779–843), an erstwhile Zen monk who became a poet during China’s Tang dynasty, recorded the lives of the sages, masters, immortals, and hermits who helped establish the great spiritual tradition of Zen Buddhism in China.
Presented in both the original Chinese and Mike O’Connor’s beautifully crafted English translation, When I Find You Again, It Will Be in Mountains brings to life this preeminent poet and his glorious religious tradition, offering the fullest translation of Chia Tao’s poems to date.
Where the World Does Not Follow
Gorgeous and unique, Where the World Does Not Follow captures an almost-hidden China. Acclaimed translator Mike O’Connor and photographer Steven Johnson uncover a world rarely seen by outsiders—even as they capture it in its everyday beauty. O’Connor’s translations of poems from China’s Tang Dynasty sing in the present day, while Johnson’s photographs reveal a modern-day China that seems almost unchanged by the passing of centuries.
Chinese authorities are only now allowing access to ancient Buddhist sites and many writings and devotional objects are being made available for the first time in decades. These poems written by Zen and Taoist hermit-sages, together with the crisp yet almost dreamlike images capture the aesthetic, literary, and spiritual roots of Buddhist China. Where the World Does Not Follow provides insight into a world that very few have been able to visit—and a time difficult even to imagine. O’Connor and Johnson’s book is a hymn to nature, to the art of photography, and to the common beauty of humanity that extends to us like a silk thread from another time and place.