Yun Wang and Alice Pero Present Chinese Poetry on August 25, 2019

The next Monthly Reading by Village Poets will present a treat of ancient Chinese poetry and flute music. The Village Poets Monthly Readings are held on Sundays, at 4:30 p.m., at Bolton Hall Museum, 10110 Commerce Avenue, Tujunga, CA 91042. The readings include two open mike segments. Refreshments are served and $3 donations collected for the cost of the venue, the second historical landmark in the City of Los Angeles, that celebrated its centennial in 2013.  The Museum is managed by the Little Landers Historical Society.
Yun Wang’s stunning collection of translations of the 1,000 year old “tune poems” of Su Dong-Po inspired Alice Pero to compose some tunes that would complement them. As the original tunes have been lost, it was a matter of conceiving of what these songs would sound like. In this reading Alice will alternately play the flute in between Yun’s Chinese and English recitation of the poems.In addition Yun and Alice will read some of their own poems.

Yun Wang is the author of two poetry books (“The Book of Totality”, Salmon Poetry Press, 2015; and “The Book of Jade”, Winner of the 15th Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize, Story Line Press, 2002), two poetry chapbooks (“Horse by the Mountain Stream”, Word Palace Press, 2016; “The Carp”, Bull Thistle Press, 1994), and a book of poetry translations (“Dreaming of Fallen Blossoms: Tune Poems of Su Dong-Po”, White Pine Press, 2019). Wang’s poems have been published in numerous literary journals, including The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Cimarron Review, Salamander Magazine, Green Mountains Review, and International Quarterly. Her translations of classical Chinese poetry have been published in The Kenyon Review Online, Salamander Magazine, Poetry Canada Review, Willow Springs, Kyoto Journal, Connotation Press, and elsewhere. Wang was born in China, and came to the U.S. for graduate school in 1985. She is an astrophysicist at California Institute of Technology.


Thunder of applause
followed by rain on the desert.
A single yellow flower
opens from a cactus palm.

A child sleeps.
Oars navigate an opal sea.

The Sun will die in five billion years.
Ten million spaceships will depart
from its white dwarf corpse.

A kiss sparks
beneath a canopy of cherry blossoms.
Electricity of one thousand faces
carved in breathing stone
rushes from Notre Dame.

Protons will decay.
The Universe will dissipate
back into a sea
of space-time foam.

Child, you are the guide
in my journey. I climb on
the boat of your laughter.

         — by Yun Wang, from The Book of Totality (Salmon Poetry Press, 2015)


To the Tune of “Butterfly and Flowers”


Blossoms fade in withered red and apricots are tiny
Swallows appear in the sky
Green water swirls around houses
Willow catkins peel off branches in the wind
Where at the sky’s edge does fragrant grass not thrive

Behind the wall is a swing beyond the wall is a trail
Beyond the wall a traveler passes
Behind the wall a girl laughs
The laughter wanes and the sound dies away
The heart is undone by the heartless

              — by Su Dong-Po (1036-1101 A.D.), translated by Yun Wang,
           from Dreaming of Fallen Blossoms: Tune Poems of Su Dong-Po (White Pine Press, 2019):

Alice Pero’s poetry has been published in many magazines 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, and anthologies “Coiled Serpent,” “Wide Awake,” “Altadena Poetry Review,” and others. Her book of poetry, “Thawed Stars”, was praised by Kenneth Koch as having “clarity and surprises.”  Pero is a teacher of poetry to young children in public and private schools since 1991.  She is also the founder of Moonday, a reading series which has been on-going in the Los Angeles area since 2002.  Ms. Pero has created dialogue poems with over 20 poets. Pero is an accomplished flutist who has created the performing group, Windsong Players Chamber Ensemble.
 Alice Pero’s poems are deliciously open, brimming with leaps, twists and surprises, often joyful and fizzy as a fireworks display.   
          ~Lyn Lifshin
 The romance of discovery, the radiant brilliance, the surprise and laughter are all here in Alice Pero’s deeply intelligent insights into the edge of things.
          ~The Book Reader, America’s Most Independent Review of Books
The poems are highly expressive, romantic, passionate, lively, concerned, and readable. They go around corners of thought with surprises waiting on the other side
         ~Ursula Gibson, Poetic Voices
 Pero is a shining star on the poetry horizon. breathtaking poetry
        ~Ralph Hasselman Jr, Lucid Moon

I will trade a memory of oatmeal
(the one with the really sweet milk)
for a taste of potato chips, very crisp

The coffee on the airplane that
made me high I will give
for the belly laugh when George on Seinfeld
rescued the golf ball from the whale

But if you didn’t save that one
I’ll trade an old Ernie Kovacs Show
for a glimpse of the Degas dancer girl at the Met

I will exchange the feel of satin
on my first prom dress (bright blue)
for six orange peels dried in the
softest sun of summer

Will you take the smell of asphalt in
spring, steaming after rain
for six ripe plums waiting in
the basket on the porch?

I can give you the grandchild’s shy smile
when I gave her a ballerina doll
but you must give me the sound of
oranges falling off the tree
with the slightest bit of wind added

There is a sprig of bougainvillea, very red
that jumps off the wall,
What will you give me for it?

(c) by Alice Pero


I lean over on you
and the wind shudders
Trees stand at attention
Branches, startled awake
sway, dropping apples like
small bombs
the children rake away and eat
delicious fruit
They wonder at the fertility
of trees.

(c) by Alice Pero, from “Thawed Stars”

Rose and landscape photos by Maja Trochimczyk