University of Rochester

Poetry Broadsides Displayed at the University of Rochester Library

April 19, 2007

An exhibit of broadsides is on display until Sunday, September 23, in the Hilfiker Gallery of the Rare Books and Special Collections Department in Rush Rhees Library on the University of Rochester's River Campus. The display is free and open to the public.

Broadsides were a major means of communication until the early 20th century, when newspapers increased in popularity. They were inexpensive one-sided sheets of paper that featured announcements, political cartoons, song lyrics, poetry, or advertisements that could be posted in public places. The Harlem Renaissance and Beat writers often distributed broadsides as a means of attracting attention to their work.

Featured in the exhibition are more than 100 illustrated poetry broadsides, all published by small presses. "The broadsides on display were produced as works of art and printed in limited numbers," says Richard Peek, librarian at the Rare Books library. "The poetry broadsides on display would be sold to the public as art, and prices varied, depending on the poet, the poem, the printer, and the overall attractiveness of the design."

Some of the broadsides in the exhibit, titled "While in the World: Selected Poetry Broadsides from the Collections," date back to 1955 while others were produced as recently as 2004. The broadsides range in size, shape, color, and general appearance, showcasing different artistic styles. The collection features the works of a variety of poets, including Walt Whitman and John Williams.

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday; from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays; and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays. To view the exhibit after May 20, call (585) 275-4477 for more information on hours.