Beyond Birds & Answers: A Dialogue

Thinking of what to say to introduce this book is like trying to put the wind in a bottle or running to catch a firefly.

Once the decision to exchange words and images was made between us, it became a flow, a natural function of spirit, somewhat effortless. Of course the shaping came later, putting this book together as a carefully designed work of art.


by Alice Pero and Vera Campion

Hardcover   |   76 pages   |   $34.99

Softcover   |   76 pages   |   $24.99

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Dialoguing in poetry is an ancient form. The Japanese wrote linked poems. The poet in this book has been dialoguing with other poets for over 30 years, and even earlier as a dancer. Ekphrastic poetry is also as old as the written word. We see this in the beauty of the Chinese scrolls. A poet writing with an artist becomes a conversation and an ever-expanding story. Writing can be like dancing to a painting. Painting can be like singing to a poem. Colors bring words and words invoke shapes and stories.

We invite the reader to find a beautiful place to read this book, a place where you can sit and simply dream.

Can I catch a firefly?

Put the wind in a bottle?

You ask me to explain

and there is only mist

Going to a place where there

are more than answers

death, a myth

— Alice Pero and Vera Campion

Beyond Birds & Answers: a Dialogue

When you immerse yourself into “Beyond Birds and Answers,” you are immediately impressed by its sentient reverence for the efficacy of art, not only as transformative but as a “function of spirit.” There is nothing short of an aura of mastery in the pairing of Alice Pero’s evocative poetry with Vera Campion’s arresting images, two accomplished artists, who inspire in us the lush subtleties of synesthetic response, resulting in sudden moments of enlightenment where “colors sing” and birds are teaching us their “language of flight.” The remarkable duality of visions offered by their collaboration, evokes in us the synergistic power of image creations that flourish on the page like burning fires reflecting off the mirrors of our consciousness. Each poem/painting offers up a world that transforms into insights as magical as the congruence between earth and sea, the moon and stars. Such magic will surely give comfort to your imagination—and inspiration.

James Ragan

Poet and author of “The Hunger Wall” and “The Chanter’s Reed” and Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California

In this beautiful dialogue between luminous poems and colorful mixed media and acrylic narratives of perpetual discovery and emotive energy, the less explored depths of our hearts and souls seek connection with all that changes or evolves, such as with a bird or a mountain or a loved one. The dialogue does not search for answers but instead embraces what arrives on wings or in dreams, with the moon’s blessing, with our hopes and our fears. It is the catalyst gives rise to the stories that create us and is a metaphoric Jacob’s ladder of possibility that goes wherever the imagination, like a secret tide, takes us. Wherever we arrive, we have not yet been. There, once again, we are home.

William O’Daly

Author of “Yarrow and Smoke” and translator of Pablo Neruda’s “Book of Twilight.”

When I was a boy one of my favorite books was George MacDonald's enchanting At the Back of the North Wind. 'I do not write for children,' MacDonald said, 'but for the child-like, whether of five, or fifty, or seventy-five.' These short poems by Alice Pero, along with collages by Vera Campion, invoke that same sensibility--a universe where birds, flowers, color, a lightness of spirit, have more truth and value than one's bank account, no matter how full. And, like a scene from a Taoist scroll in which a monk ascends a rock-strewn mountain, where one is free to be.

Peter Ludwin

Peter’s most recent book, Gone to Gold Mountain, was nominated for both a Washington State Book Award and an American Book Award.

Star turns our minds upside down
We travel a path of sunflowers
to where grass grows backwards into the ground and apples dance with jugglers and thieves

Star hides in the mouths of small critters underground in tunnels of warm moss
She has no reason or rhyme
only her constant shine urging us to drink her light

Beyond Birds & Answers: A Dialogue

Also available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound, Belmont Books, Bokus, Booksmith, Booktowne, Green Apple Books, Brain Lair Books, Iconoclast Books, Leana’s Books & More, Napa Bookmine, Books Inc, Print a Bookstore and Rainy Day Books.

Authors and Contributors

Alice Pero has created dialogue poems with over 20 poets. She started dialoguing with other poets as a dancer in the 1980s and these continuing exchanges with other poets have resulted in thousands of pages of poetry. Her work with New York City artist Vera Campion is her first conversation with works of art. Pero’s poetry has been published in magazines and anthologies, including Nimrod, National Poetry Review, River Oak Review, Poet Lore, The Alembic, North Dakota Quarterly, The Distillery, Fox Cry Review, The Griffin, and G.W. Review, “Coiled Serpent,” “Wide Awake,” “Altadena Poetry Review,” and “Pratik.” Her first book of poetry “Thawed Stars” was praised by Kenneth Koch as having “clarity and surprises.” Pero is a teacher of poetry and a member of California Poets in the Schools, having developed a unique style of teaching children poetry based on rhythm and other art forms. Devoted to poetry as spoken word, she also formed the reading series Moonday in 2002. An accomplished, classically trained flutist and former dancer, she formed Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble in 2015, which performs regularly around the Los Angeles area. You can learn more about Alice Pero’s work at

Vera Campion is a New York City artist. She comes from a little village in Czech Republic where she collected mushrooms and berries in the summer and attended firemen and forest ranger balls in the winter. Till this day, the national costumes and the vivid memories of childhood influence the shapes and colors in her work. Poetry, with its new metaphors and concepts, adds ongoing inspiration. She loves to work and goes by the idea that inspiration is not waited for, but is invited. She sees her art as “reality in metaphor.” She loves collage. She says it is as if the picture grows organically from the cut-up shapes and the final image comes as a surprise. She has shown mostly in New York although she had a Solo exhibition in Prague and also had work shown around the United States and Canada. Vera also earned a Certificate of Service for 9’ x 5-feet mural design for the Child Welfare Administration, as well as commendations for her holiday murals at the Church of Scientology. She opens her studio to the public once a year. Vera carried on dialogue with Bob Hart, New York poet, to whom this book is dedicated and currently her dialogue with Alice Pero continues.

Elyssar Press is committed to the power of human knowledge, to telling tales that remind us of the joy of being alive and sharing in a living, thriving space.

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