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"History of Children's Poetry" exhibition to open September 23

Illustration by Walter Crane, "The Marquis of Carabas Picture Book," published 1874.

Members of the Rutgers community and the general public are invited to the opening reception for the exhibition "My Infant Head: The History of Children's Poetry" in Alexander Library on Tuesday September 23rd . The reception will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. in the Scholarly Communication Center, on the fourth floor of the library, located at 169 College Avenue in New Brunswick.

The exhibition opening will feature an address by Lissa Paul, Faculty of Education, at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, and co-editor of The Norton Anthology of Children's Literature. She will be introduced by Andrea Immel, Curator of the Cotsen Library at Princeton University, and co-editor of the recently published, Under Fire: Children in the Shadow of War (2008).

"My Infant Head: The History of Children's Poetry" surveys over four centuries of poems published in English for children in England and North America. This exhibition touches on several major studies of children's poetry from the last decade, and suggests ways that poetry for children has changed while also remaining the same, against a backdrop of cultural constructions of childhood. The exhibition includes nearly a hundred texts from Rutgers University Libraries' collections.

General themes and topics represented in the exhibition include the seventeenth-century origins of children's poetry, the Enlightenment poets, nursery rhymes, nineteenth-century women poets, the influence of the Romantics, the schoolroom poets, the use of illustration in poetry, and twentieth-century American anthologies. Prominent individual poets and groups highlighted in the exhibition include Kenneth Grahame, Christina Rossetti, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter de la Mare, Alvin Tresselt, Robert Graves, A.A. Milne, Marilyn Nelson, the poets of the Harlem Renaissance, and British Caribbean poets.

In addition to rare and unique works, artists' books, first editions and association copies (including Mark Twain's copy of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner), "My Infant Head" will display original artwork for illustrations by Roger Duvoisin and other artists, kindly loaned by the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Museum. A continuous loop of children's poems read by poets, professional readers and by the Rutgers University community will play in the Special Collections and University Archives Gallery to emphasize the central importance of the spoken word.

To RSVP for the opening reception, please call 732-932-7505 or send email to, and indicate if you need assistance with parking. The exhibition will be on display until January 9, 2009 in both Gallery '50 and the Special Collections and University Archives Gallery in the Alexander Library.

"My Infant Head: The History of Children's Poetry" is co-sponsored by the School of Communication, Information and Library Studies and the Center for Effective School Practices at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. The exhibition is curated by Michael Joseph, Rare Books Librarian in Special Collections and University Archives, of the Rutgers University Libraries.

Posted September 8, 2008