Thursday, September 30, 2010

Peter Daniels, Work & Food

Peter Daniels' Work & Food is a very small and very stylish pamphlet from Mulfran Press, about, well, work and food. It's illustrated by Moira Coupe. I've been reading it over the last day or so, with great pleasure. The effect is calming – the poems, realist but tender, and the varied and interesting illustrations, are like a tiny day off from it all.

Peter says, 'Leona Carpenter, who runs Mulfran Press, was involved with Vennel Press in the 1990s alongside Richard Price. Vennel published a series of “Brief Pleasures” which were A6 pamphlets with themes, one of which was my Blue Mice. I was very pleased when Leona was starting Mulfran with a similar series and was able to publish Work & Food. As the Mulfran Miniatures were to be illustrated, I asked my artist friend Moira Coupe. She was fun to work with, and also satisfyingly careful about getting the right relationship of image and words. Work & Food was a possible title for the “long awaited” collection, but at least one person reading the manuscript wasn’t happy with it. I thought a more precisely themed group of poems about work and food would go well as a pamphlet, and use the title which I did quite like. The pamphlets come with an envelope in a little transparent sleeve like a greetings card – you do need a display copy, though.'

You can buy Work & Food here. And here's a poem from it, with accompanying illustration:

The Guru’s Coat

I’m going outside in the evening rain:
it’s not cold yet, but the wind’s begun.

We’re allowed to borrow the Guru’s coat
without asking, and I need to use it

but people still wonder, “Does he know what he’s done?”,
with their looks that call me to justify the loan.

The coat’s a big blanket blazoned with his face:
I walk it up the night street, wear it on the bus.

I broke the Guru’s favourite pot.
I don’t know how to replace it

and I’m not satisfied to learn
that I’ve already been forgiven,

so I go looking: but this mission’s embarrassing.
Determined I’ll go home with something,

I think of a shop with pots in the window.
I saw it last Wednesday, and it isn’t there now.

Instead there’s a railing, like any in this town,
spread with a coat I can claim as my own:

a patchwork of red and yellow imitation furs,
a hood of silk, and buttons like stars,

but as I lift it, it snags on a spike
that rips it to pieces. And so I go back

and I hang up the Guru’s coat in silence
with nothing to show. The disciples don’t notice,

busy cooking pancakes on an old iron stove:
a thin coat of batter, that keeps us alive.

Peter Daniels, from Work & Food (Mulfran Press, 2010)


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