The Telepoem Booth® project repurposes and re-enchants decommissioned (and disappearing) telephone booths to give back to communities in multi-sensory ways: visual, haptic and aural. They are multi-genre and multi-media, using poetry, art and recordings to impact users. Most importantly, they are engaging art pieces that require the audience’s participation.
Telepoem Booths are provocative, exciting installation art pieces that place poetry in the public realm. They deliver an impactful emotional insight to each listener. Hearing poetry read can be cathartic and healing, providing a multi-sensory way for the public to access poetry and the human experience. Telepoem Booths give a performance vehicle for voices of many kinds.
Telepoem Booths are absolutely unique as they require the user to complete the creative cycle by interactively selecting a poem of their choice and physically dialing a phone. They are three-dimensional literary magazines that provide a contextual historical platform for poets and writers to (literally) be heard. And they activate, in every instance, a communal experience and excitement within the literary community where the booth has been placed.
The first Telepoem Booth® debuted in Mesa, AZ at the spark! Festival of Creativity at the Mesa Arts Center which featured Mesa, Phoenix and Valley poets. Another Telepoem Booth® was placed in three different locations in Flagstaff, AZ for a year and a half with Flagstaff poets in the directory. A Telepoem Booth® is placed permanently in State College, PA (home of Penn State) with 150 poems from writers in the area, with two permanent installations forthcoming to the City of Santa Fe, NM and New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, NM. The Telepoem Booth® organization is led by creator Elizabeth Hellstern and consists of four part-time professionals: a fabricator and sculptor, a computer programmer, an electrician and an art historian who specializes in contemporary art.
We have 750 poems by regional, national and international poets in the Telepoem Book.
"Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning."
-Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
We take the personal area code of each poet and put it first; then the poet's last name translates into the three prefix numbers; and finally, the poem title is the last four suffix digits.
For example: (928) 736-7327 in the Telepoem Directory is Pear Blossom Highway by Flagstaff poet Jesse Sensibar.
(928) = Flagstaff's area code
736 = S-E-N on the phone key pad
7327 = P-E-A-R on the phone key pad
(this poem is only dialable inside a physical Telepoem Booth)
how we compile telepoem numbers