Tag Archives: Sarah Russell

167 Poems to Dial Up

Last night, April 14, 2017 there was a groundbreaking event in our small town –the second of its nature in the United States: The grand opening of Telepoem Booth State College, Central Pennsylvania. And the poetry art scene at large owes the expansion of its presence in this exceptional form to the 2017 Viola Award Winner, artist and writer, Elizabeth Hellstern. If you are in the area –downtown State College, that is, stop by Webster’s Bookstore Café. Then simply walk down its stairs, look ahead once on ground level, and be greeted by this public art piece right across the entrance.

In an article, featured in the April 2017 issue of State College Magazine, Steven Deutsch–a local poet and freelance writer and one of the members of The Telepoem Selection Committee offers valuable insight into this “new public art installation” (“Dialing Up Poetry”, 32):

[Quote Start] The Telepoem Booth is a repurposed 1970s rotary dial telephone booth, developed, refurbished, and sent to us by artist and writer Elizabeth Hellstern. When you dial a number, you are connected through a computer to a catalogue of poems, nearly all recorded by the individual poets.

The first Telepoem Booth was showcased at the Festival of Creativity in Mesa, Arizona, in 2016. One currently resides in Flagstaff. Old phone booths have been repurposed as libraries and aquariums in the past, but the conversion to a poem booth is unique to Hellstern. She writes of the idea:

[Sub-quote Start] ‘In the arts we focus on vision, but I’m especially fascinated by touch. To me, touch is a very powerful and intimate sense that requires a one-on-one interaction, unlike sight or sound. It is the first sense. When I was a curator, I began judging beauty by touch as well as sight and I started to explore the concept of haptic experience. As a writer, I pondered the idea of bringing multi-sensory engagement to word. What is the word of art? How can I make words have materiality of object? How can I bring words off the page?

I want words to interact with an audience in a way that is visual and kinesthetic. I want them to feel more intimate and require engagement of the senses. I thought about the forms and objects that have historically helped people to connect to others, forms that were created for moments of intimacy: pay phones and poetry. Combined, these two forms create a whole new experience – the Telepoem Booth’ [Sub-quote End] (Deutsch, 33). [Quote End]

John Ziegler is another name that everyone aware of this newly erected art of ‘touchable’ poetry in State College should know. Inspired by his accidental discovery of the Telepoem Booth in Flagstaff, this local poet together with Hellstern initiated the installation of one in our town.

The Telepoem Selection Committee –consisting also of local poets, judged 327 poems submitted by 86 poets for inclusion in the initial round, as quoted by the TSC chair Sarah Russell in her congratulatory email to those whose submissions were accepted. Deutsch writes the final outcome in the same article cited previously:

[Quote Start] 167 poems by 75 poets were accepted. […] While many of the poets are from the Centre Region, poetry from as far away as Australia is included. For the most part, the individual poets have recorded their poems, so that the voice the listener hears upon dialing up a specific poem will be that of the poet (35). [Quote End]

Today, I feel gratified that two of my poems are among the 167 to dial up and to listen to. The Telepoem Book inside the booth offers a no-nonsense assistance. Poets and poems appear in that directory with their last names under two headings: “Telepoets” and “Genres”, spanning over nineteen genres. I am one of the ‘Telepoets’ whose own voices are heard once the dial-up is complete.

Elizabeth Hellstern: Video (top left) and still picture (top second left)
John Ziegler: Still picture (top center)
[Photo Credit: Self]


Filed under Poetry, Reflections

Telepoem Booth in State College, PA ~ The First Year’s Collection ~ My Two Poems


What do you think of incoming correspondences that start with this lovely C-word?

Over the years, I have received my share of the other kind: “We are sorry to inform you […]“. I don’t know about you but I most prefer the option on top…

To my delight, an email came into sight this past Wednesday with that C-word preceding its opening paragraph: “Five reviewers have sifted through 327 poems from 86 poets and would like to include the following poems that you submitted in the Telepoem Booth Collection.” The letter was from The Telepoem Booth Committee (I have tagged the name of each member). Assuming that I won’t miss the deadline to provide the committee with the recordings of my poems, they will be in the first year’s Telepoem Booth Collection. (Each contributing poet is offered professional readers but I am going to try it with my own voice first.) “The one in State College, location to be determined, will be the second in the nation (Telepoem Booth to Bring Poetry to Downtown State College)”.

My two poems below are the ones to be included in the State College Telepoem Booth Collection. They may seem familiar to you as I have posted them here before. Both have also appeared in The Year of the Poet, a monthly publication by Inner Child Press, Ltd. with the same titles: “Euterpe” and “inkpots” – which are, in my case, no formal titles but rather the initial verse):


i beg of you hear my plea
shield the natal passion
the first resolve to forget
the quest for the new breath
the now
the here

my desire
to define
the divine

rid me of yesteryear
free me from the self
watch my soul reject its cage
sate my shadow’s final plea
let it soar in its primal roar
see its essence prance in trance

help me shape the freshened day


© hülya n. yılmaz, March 20, 2015


used to uncover the fading word

a second or more to gather the instant

to reminisce to reflect to feel to sense

to touch to hold the new breath

exhaling life at its worst

inhaling poetry




to surpass it all again and again


© hülya n. yılmaz, March 20, 2015

Related Links:
Telepoem Booth State College on Facebook
Philipsburg Journal


Filed under Reflections

Thank you, “Pastiche” Editorial Board: Anne Cornell, Rita Lumpkins, Barbara Natalie, Sarah Russell!

My two poems, “Loneliness” and “dis-ease” appear now in: Pastiche Magazine Spring 2013: Issue 6

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Filed under Reflections