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Volume 9 Issue 4 Spring 2009(2)

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Library Showcases Poetry Broadsides

by Elizabeth Haworth

Carrier Library is hosting an exhibit of poetry broadsides created by local high school students through April.  The exhibit, a collaboration between Carrier Library and the Furious Flower Poetry Center, showcases the work of art students from Harrisonburg High School and Eastern Mennonite High School and is part of the library’s celebration of National Poetry Month.

Poetry Broadside
Poetry Broadside "First Snowfall" by Kyle Saxton, Harrisonburg High School.


Broadsides, which were common between the mid-sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, are part of the rich communications history of Europe and the United States. They are large sheets of paper printed on one side and posted in prominent places for the public to read. Broadsides traditionally announced news, events (including everything from dances to floggings), exhibits, and advertisements, and they served as a forum for political statements and debates.


News and announcements printed on broadsides in the United States were also known as “street literature.” Early broadsides were text only, but as printing technology improved, more broadsides included images, borders, and fancy fonts. Broadsides and street literature declined as printing technology advanced, making newspapers affordable and accessible.


Poetry broadsides are issued by small private presses and include the text of a poem along with an artistic interpretation. Poetry broadsides are limited, usually numbered and signed, and often rare. The broadsides exhibit in Carrier Library includes linoleum cuts and paintings.

Reba Leiding and Johlene Hess, Editors

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