Maria Popova

Writer / United States / Brain Pickings

Maria Popova’s Notable Books of 2012

1 book
Ramsingh Urveti

For the past 17 years, Indian publishing house Tara Books has been giving voice to marginalized art and literature through a commune of artists, writers, and designers collaborating on remarkable handmade books. This die-cut masterpiece two years in the making is based on a 17th-century British “trick” poem and illustrated in the signature Indian folk art style of the Gond tribe by Indian artist Ramsingh Urveti.

Each line of the “trick verse” builds upon the previous one, flowing into a kind of rhythmic redundancy embodied in the physical structure of the book as each repeating line is printed only once, but appears on two pages by peeking through exquisitely die-cut holes that play on the stark black-and-white illustrations. Thus, if read page by page the way one would read a traditional book, the poem sounds spellbindingly surreal—but if read through the die-cuts, a beautiful and crisp story comes together. Achieving this required a remarkable level of ingenuity in order to make the conceptual structure of the poem fit the physicality of the book as a storytelling artifact—a true feat by Japanese-Brazilian RISD designer Jonathan Yamakami.

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