Good Life

Telepoem Booth calling on local poets for submissions

If you’re a local poet, opportunity may soon be calling you collect — or to collect, depending on how well the submission process goes.

Centre Foundation is bringing a Telepoem Booth to State College, which will operate more or less as the wordplay implies.

The basic premise is inspired by a project that was originated by Elizabeth Hellstern, an artist in Flagstaff, Arizona, who re-purposed the anachronistic iconography of a phone booth as a modern methodology for delivering recitations of poetry on demand.

Variety is the name of the game, with the prose in question covering the gamut between classical and modern with representation from genres like narrative, free and slam.

“This booth will add another element of whimsical fun and art to downtown State College,” Molly Kunkel, Centre Foundation executive director, said in a press release.

The supply line for all of these poems will extend straight into the community. Interested wordsmiths, be they young or old, are invited to submit up to five pieces for consideration by using an online form found at Submissions are due by Jan. 1.

As far as guidelines go, these ones are relatively simple. Each poem should be no more than 40 lines. Previously published work may be submitted, so long as credit is given to the original publisher. Steer clear of anything sexually graphic or hateful.

Reviewing the submissions will be a team comprised of John Ziegler, Sarah Russell, Steve Deutsch, Katie Bode-Lang and Mary McGuire, who will oversee the installation of the recorded poems in the booth next year.

Ziegler, who taught art and the humanities at Bellefonte Area High School for 30 years, encountered the original Telepoem Booth while visiting his son in Flagstaff.

“What appealed to me about it was it was poetry on the street. I think poetry can come across as being brainy and academic. I found that contemporary poets were thinking about everyday things in everyday language I could relate to,” Ziegler said.

Back in State College, said language will eventually be ensconced in the romance of a good-old fashioned rotary phone.

Accordingly to Ziegler, the Telepoem Booth will be installed at the beginning of the spring, possibly somewhere downtown, although they have yet to settle on a final location.

Poetry submissions will receive a response by February, but it sounds like there will be multiple chances for local poets to get their number in the phone book.

In addition to another round of solicitations, Ziegler said that they are planning to reach out to schools and nursing homes to bring a little diversity to the repertoire.

“It’s something we’ll continue to add to periodically,” Ziegler said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready