Bill Porter, AKA Red Pine, was born in Los Angeles, California in 1943 and grew up in Northern Idaho. After serving in the US Army from 1964 to 1967, he attended college at UC Santa Barbara, where he earned a BA with Honors in Anthropology, then graduate school at Columbia University. Uninspired by the prospect of an academic career, he left Columbia in 1972 and moved to a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan.

After four years with the monks and nuns, he struck out on his own and lived in a farming village on a mountain near Taipei for fifteen years. During this time, he supported himself as an English teacher, a newspaper copy editor, and as a radio journalist at English-language stations in both Taiwan and Hong Kong, which required him to travel extensively in China.

He returned to America in 1993 and has lived ever since with his wife and two children in Port Townsend, Washington, where he has worked as a baker, a waiter, and for the past fifteen years as a translator of Chinese poetry and spiritual texts. He lectures at universities and gives talks at Zen centers. His poetry translations are written under the name Red Pine. He has written 20 books and among his many awards and honors he is the recipient of a Guggenheim Grant.