The Magic Whip

Poetry by Wang Ping

October 1, 2003 • 6.75 x 9.75 • 90 pages • 978-1-56689-147-9

A beautifully crafted collection that bears the weight of human suffering and joy.

This melodic, visceral collection juxtaposes the author’s unbridled delight in motherhood with the complex and brutal practice of footbinding in China, the plight of Tibet, and the remarkable endurance of survivors everywhere. The Magic Whip pays particular attention to women and children whose ordeals have been imprinted on their very bodies and whose memories resonate in these exceptionally clear, beautifully crafted poems that bear the weight of human suffering and joy.

About the Author

Wang Ping was born in Shanghai and grew up on a small island in the East China Sea. After three years of farming in a mountain village, she attended Beijing University. In 1985 she left China to study in the U.S., earning her Ph.D. from New York University.

Her books include two collections of poetry, The Magic Whip and Of Flesh & Spirit, the cultural study Aching for Beauty: Footbinding in China, the novel Foreign Devil, two collections of fiction stories entitled American Visa and The Last Communist Virgin, and a book of Chinese folk lore, The Dragon Emperor. Wang is also the editor and co-translator of the anthology New Generation: Poetry from China Today and co-translator of Flames by Xue Di.

The Last Communist Virgin was winner of the 2008 Minnesota Book Awards in the category of Novel & Short Story and the 2007 Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies in the category of Poetry/Prose. The Magic Whip was a 2004 finalist for the Minnesota Book Award and received an honorable mention from the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, and Aching for Beauty was a 2001 Minnesota Book Award finalist and winner of the University of Colorado’s Eugene M. Kayden Book Award for “the best book in the humanities published by an American university press.”

Her writing has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Best American Poetry 1993 and 1996. She is a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Loft Literary Center, and Bush Foundation, and she was a recipient of the Lannan Residency Program in 2007. She currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, and teaches creative writing at Macalester College.


“Wang Ping is a fearless, phenomenal writer.” —Louise Erdrich

“Wang Ping’s The Magic Whip is riddled with surprises that bite and soothe. Though populated with Chinese myths and talismans, the tonal muscle and unique imagery of this rewarding collection tug us away from the stereotypical. There’s something wise and original in these poems wrung from need.” —Yusef Komunyakaa

“At the Chinese-American crossroads, Wang Ping confronts us with a sinewy, witty nostalgia for the harsh but deep reality of Chinese customs and culture.” —Clayton Eshleman

The Magic Whip is full of surprises that speak of a biting intelligence and rebellious spirit, one unafraid to ransack and appropriate so-called public and personal histories in order to query them for more satisfying meanings.” —Portfolio Weekly

“These poems give the reader a panoramic view of a Chinese woman’s consciousness. The voices are personal yet historical, contemporary yet ancient. Themes range from footbinding, to breastfeeding, to raising a son, to living in wild New York—a generous reading experience.” —Marilyn Chin