Guest Writer’s Series #2: Dorianne Laux

The Art of the Student Broadside: A photo Documentary

I have always loved broadsides, and have collected quite a few over the years, many of them framed and hung around our home. These are poems I love to read and read again, Ruth Stone’s “Mantra”, taped to the side of a bookcase in the dining room, is one of 300 copies printed at Copper Canyon Press on the occasion of her winning the National Book Award for In The Next Galaxy. In the guest bedroom you can find Philip Levine’s “Ask for Nothing” under glass, designed and printed by Okeanos Press for Black Oak Books, signed by the author. “Beach Roses” by Mark Doty is also there, printed at the Elliott Press for a reading he gave at Pacific Lutheran University. In the kitchen, “Stay Still…” by Rilke, translated by my first editor the late Al Poulin and printed by Brighton Press, illustrated in green and red ink, an etching by the artist DeLoss McGraw, the 27th of 50 copies and signed in pencil by Poulin. As I move through the house, move through my day, I often stop and read a poem, stop, and read a poem. And my day grows larger in these moments.

I brought this love of the broadside into my classrooms at The University of Oregon and now here to North Carolina State. This line appears in every syllabus I have written over the past few years: Students will choose one poem from among the course offerings for memorization and recitation and will create a handmade broadside of their chosen poem. I email them an Internet guide to the history of the broadside as well as examples I have found on-line (see below). I then tell them they can do anything; there are no rules and no limits. If they want to write the poem in chalk on the sidewalk in front of the University, we will walk there as a class to view it, and if they want to print the poem on a t-shirt or a baseball cap, a pair of shoes, an arm or a leg, that is acceptable. I direct them to my facebook page where I’ve begun documenting their efforts so they can see what others have done before them. I save the classes near the end of the semester for presentations. The results are glorious, original, imaginative, humble, poignant, funky, elegant, always surprising, sometimes astonishing. Complex as a set of Chinese boxes or simple as a line drawing, origami-delicate to hood-of-a-car huge, you can see the careful thought and work that goes into these projects, these poems, poems that each student has gotten by heart and found a way to honor and display. Herewith, are a few photos of what they have made.

An Internet Guide to Information on Broadsides

The Word on the Street: A Short History of the Broadside

A history of The Ballad and Broadsides

On the Walls and in the Streets: American Poetry Broadsides from the 1960s

Author: James D. Sullivan

An interactive history from 1515-2000

History of Broadside Poetry

Scott King and Red Dragonfly Press: Foundry, the machines that cast type

Colored Horse: Broadside Books

Red Dragonfly Press: Type & Monotype Foundry Source:

Red Dragonfly Press: Type & Monotype Foundry


The special casting of 18 didot Menhart Italic is now complete. Two complete fonts (10A-30a) available at $120. The special casting of 18 didot Menhart Roman was completed before the Italic. A halfdozen complete fonts (12A-30a) are available for $120. …

Check out the blog and video’s below

Poetry Workshop Blogspot

Dorianne Laux’s fourth book of poems, Facts about the Moon (W.W. Norton), is the recipient of the Oregon Book Award. Laux is also author of Awake, What We Carry, and Smoke from BOA Editions, as well as Superman: The Chapbook and Dark Charms, both from Red Dragonfly Press. Recent poems appear in Cimarron Review, Cerise Press, Margie, The Seattle Review, Tin House and The Valparaiso Review. Her fifth collection of poetry, The Book of Men, will be published by W.W. Norton in 2011. Laux teaches in the MFA Program at North Carolina State University.

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