Like poems, phone booths create private experiences
out of public surroundings. They both have the ability
to connect with people in faraway places.
Their perceived value is pocket change.
Earlier this year, I was excited to be involved with a wonderful project called the Telepoem Booth.
I recorded a few poems with David Crummey after Mesa's District 4 reading series for the brainchild of Elizabeth Hellstern, who found and purchased an old phone booth and had it re-purposed with the help of her partner, artist Owen William Fritts, as a poetry monument which housed recordings of over 200 poems from nearly 100 poets, including a variety of unpublished students and established writers. Hellstern even got the blessing of Allen Ginsberg's estate to use his recording of Howl.
The Telepoem Booth looks beautiful and inside is a "directory" listing all the poets with a corresponding phone number for each poem that you can dial up to listen (on a rotary phone!!).
Here's a link to the local NPR affiliate that aired an interview and story about it:
For several months, the beloved booth was located on the street in Flagstaff outside of Macy's Coffeehouse where pedestrians could dial up random poems at any hour of the day. But it was recently vandalized and forced to be taken down.
Fortunately, Hellstern and Fritts were able to restore it and find a new location, so it can re-open this weekend (visit it at Old Town Shops at 120 N. Leroux in Flagstaff, Arizona). If you would like to help donate to their generous labor of love, there is a Gofundme site setup for any amount of charitable contributions to help maintain the booth and to transform a second booth:
Every quarter helps.