Books On Books Collection – Richard Price & Ronald King

little but often (2007)

little but often: a pop-up alphabet love poem (2007)
Richard Price (text), Ronald King (design)
Dos-à-dos accordion book. H165 x W110 mm, 28 double-panel spreads. Edition of 350. Acquired from the artist, 6 October 2021.
Photos: Books On Books Collection.

Richard Price’s lines recall the inventiveness of Emily Dickinson‘s and compression of Samuel Menashe‘s. For Dickinson, we have the artistry of Jen Bervin; for Menashe, we have that of Julie Johnstone; and for Price, we have his full-on collaboration with Ron King.

Harking back to The Half-Year Letters (1983), little but often pairs King’s lowercase pop-up alphabet with Price’s verses, just as its predecessor paired the uppercase with Roy Fisher‘s alphabet-inspired evocations of the 26 weeks from April through September. Also like its predecessor, little but often plays on the 52 weeks of the year, this time with its front and back covers illustrated with a playing-card suit of hearts, “numbered” a-m and n-z, and with two pages allotted to each week, each letter and each brief poem — as the title says, little but often. While The Half-Year Letters explores the forward movement of the letters alongside the movement of the year, this is love poetry in a book of back and forth. Text and design converse — and not merely by the letter.

The last letter and lines in the book exemplify this to perfection.

Of the few other pairs of couplets in the book, none is as back and forth as the letter z’s. Paired against one another, rhyming ab ab, each line beginning alike with its N-z phrase, the two couplets echo the back-to-backness and balance of the dos-à-dos structure. The phrases self-righteous space and tender absence can be read as allusions to the cut-out space around the letters. Or vice versa. Again, back and forth. “Angry” and “tender” bat each other back and forth, just as the final phrase turns the dos-à-dos sweetly back on itself.

Together, Price and King make the concertina book “smile brighter”.†

Further Reading

Abecedaries I (in progress)“. 31 March 2020. Books On Books Collection.

Ronald King“. 1 March 2021. Books On Books Collection.

Clark, Caroline. 23 January 2013. “Clark on Price“. Eyewear, the blog.

†Dante Alighieri. 1320. Purgatorio (Canto XI, 82). Hollander, Robert, Stephen Campbell, and Simone Marchesi. 1988. Dartmouth Dante project. When Dante meets and praises the illuminator Oderisi da Gubbio in purgatory, Oderisi directs the praise to his pupil Franco Bolognese as the one who really made “the pages smile brighter”.

Price, Richard. 2018. Digital. Essence Press. Collaboration with Julie Johnstone.

___________. 2008. folded. Essence Press. Collaboration with Julie Johnstone.

Wheatley, David. 31 October 2009. “Rays by Richard Price and The Hundred Thousand Places by Thomas A Clark“. The Guardian.