My Infant Head: The History of Children’s Poetry

This exhibit at Rutger’s looks amazing. Sadly, I can’t go to this coming Tuesday’s opening because it is our Open House night at school. Otherwise I would because I rarely get the chance to hear the brilliant Lissa Paul.

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 comments on and contextualizes several significant studies of children’s poetry, including recent book-length studies of American children’s poetry by children’s lit scholars Joseph Thomas, Angela Sorby, Phil Nel, and Kate Capshaw Smith, and it demonstrates how poetry for children functions as a time-binder, and how it illuminates underlying affinities among disparate historical and cultural constructions of children.

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 the genre of children’s poetry, the Enlightenment and pre-Victorian poets, nursery rhymes, the influence of the Romantics, the schoolroom poets, the tyranny of illustration (or how Randolph Caldecott unwittingly ruined children’s poetry), the influence of twentieth-century American anthologies, poets of the Harlem Renaissance, Asian-American children’s poetry, Urchin Verse/Poetry, and the prose poetry of Alvin Tresselt. Some poets children’s poets included in the exhibition are William Blake, William Wordworth, Edmund Spenser, Kenneth Grahame, Christina Rossetti, Randall Jarrell, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walter de la Mare, Robert Graves, A.A. Milne, Marilyn Nelson, Ann Taylor, Laetitia Landon, Lucy Aikin, JonArno Lawson, John Ciardi, Edward Gorey, X.J. Kennedy, Michael Rosen, Gwendolyn Brooks, Frost and Sandburg, E.E. Cummings, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, Elizabeth Grymeston, John Bunyan, John Donne, Mother Goose and Dorothy Leigh.

In addition to rare and unique artists’ books (including Lois Morrison’s Jacob ladder book “In Adam’s Fall, Sinned We All”), first editions and association copies (including Mark Twain’s own copy of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner), “My Infant Head” will display original artwork by Roger Duvoisin, Susanne Saba and other artists, kindly loaned by the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Museum. A children’s poetry soundscape consisting of children’s poems read by poets, professional readers and by the Rutgers University community will play in Gallery ’50 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.

The exhibition will be on display through January 9, 2009.

If you require assistance with parking, please indicate when you RSVP.

1 Comment

Filed under Children's Literature

One response to “My Infant Head: The History of Children’s Poetry

  1. Hi , just found this site and was wondering if there is any follow up info on this event. Would love read more. I live in Canada


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.