The Making of The Comfort of Potatoes

A Book of Poems by Janice Dabney

Published by Dutch Poet Press | October 2015

book cover

To convey the sense of what the author's poems evoke, the design and construction of the book called for giving it the look and feel — the hands-on tactile feel — of the potato in the choice of papers, colors, and typography.

The cover stock is Kraft-Tone Paper Bag from the French Paper Company. For the inside pages, we used a heavier than usual text weight of Strathmore Pastelle with deckled edges. It’s fun to think of the potato poems sitting inside a paper bag.

The fun continues with the display type, Iowan Old Style, the kind of lettering the type designer and sign painter John Downer considers perfect for grocery store signage and other uses. Just right for directing attention to this special produce item, the humble, yet remarkable potato Janice portrays so compellingly in her poems.

One can also take delight with a wink and a chuckle at the designer applying a down-home sense and purpose to the traditional Venetian letterform, with a measure of irony.

Just how old is this “Old Style”?

Knowing that Downer lives and works in Iowa City, Iowa reminds me of Grant Wood, another artist in residence who paid tribute to the region in his work eliciting a knowing wink and chuckle.

Think American Gothic with its leitmotif of European artistic tradition brought into the heartland. You gonna love it!

--- Robert Perry

so much depends



                         Remco Campert


dutch poet

book cover idea



Dog barks at the moon


In the attic room I hear

my nickname called

from downstairs


Children play in the summer

a sailor stands on the carpet

cops chase the robber


Morning arrives

I return to the table

by the large window

the blank page

before me


by Robert Perry

Bedankt Remco!

Ten Thousand Things | Poem of Appreciation

for Kent Manske, friend and teacher of book arts

cloth banner poem
  • FOUR SEASONS | English Translation by Robert Perry



    Butter melts in the cupboard.

    A layer of sand on hall and carpet.



    The gutter is full.

    A stack of bricks stand in the yard.

    Up in the attic an empty bed.



    Dame Blanche without lust.



    Ginger, our reward.


    by Robert Perry

  • IN A MIST | English Translation by Robert Perry


    Title of a composition of Bix Biederbecke



    In the house that was not mine

    with the woman who was once mine

    the piano that nobody could play

    and the bill that nobody could pay …

    house of mist

    woman of mist

    words of mist

    love of mist

    in a mist



    The night was never so black

    the earth never so uncertain

    behind my ribs is stuck a shard of grief,

    Who made the roads impassable?

    Yes, I know it well, you say

    I did it, the hater of roads.

    with a hand full of wounded love

    with a head full of biting pain

    with a heart full of blood drying black



    In a mist I have walked for many years now

    in a mist of words and gestures

    in a mist of pain and uncertainty

    one day I will disappear in a mist of no feeling.



    Come, let’s drink a lot of whiskey

    out of a glass or out of the bottle

    as long as it reaches our stomachs

    Let’s go to the train tracks on the dike

    and listen to the rails

    where danger comes our way.

    Hear our dangerous ears

    banging on the nervous metal.

    The night was never so black.


    by Remco Campert



Titel van een compositie van Bix Biederbecke



In het huis dat het mijnde niet was

met de vrouw die de mijnde eens was

de piano die niemand spelen kon

en de rekening die niemand betalen kon…


huis van mist

vrouw van mist

woorden van mist

liefde van mist


in een mist



De nacht was nog nooit zo zwart

de aarde nooit zo onzeker

Achter mijn ribben steekt een scherf van verdriet,


Wie maakte de wegen onbegaanbaar?

Ja ik weet het wel je zegt

ik heb het gedaan de hater van wegen.


met een hand vol woedende liefde

met een hoofd vol bijtende pijn

met een hart vol zwartworddendend bloed



In een mist loop ik nu al jaren

in een mist van woorden en gebaren

in een mist van pijn en onzekerheid

eens zal ik verdwijnen in een mist van gevoelloosheid.



Kom laten we veel whisky drinken

uit een glas of uit de fles

als het maar in de maag komt,


En laten we dan naar de spoordijk gaan

en luisteren aan de rails

waar het gevaar naar toe gaat.


Hoor onze gevaarlijke oren

bonzen op het nerveuze metaal.

De nacht was nog nooit zo zwart.


door Remco Campert

bij hoog en bij laag, Bezige Bij, Amsterdam, 1966

photo with poem

Poem inspired by the Tao Te Ching—printed on cloth by the poet Robert Perry and given to Kent for his extraordinary teaching. Kent put the banner up in his studio and shared these words about his gift:

Your words encourage, an aid my permission, to wander freely. To gather, to question, to sort, to clarify, to define and to just be without the weight of impositions, intruders and distractors seeking other than my own unknown destination.

O River | New Poem by Robert Perry



O river   I am

swept by tears

drown in

the music of


I grasp the drape

not the spear

I cannot live


except in the


among shadows

of burnt umber

and the river

O river   I am

swept by tears

there is

a good place

or no place


Poem inspired by Saul and David painted by Rembrandt van Rijn in 1652. (Mauritshuis,
The Hague)

poem and photo

In Memoriam: Zbigniew Novak (1924 – 2013)

Poem by Robert Perry

Dutch Poet Press © 2015

All Rights Reserved.