Art installation in the form of 1970s telephone booth brings poetry to Dubuque

Published: Sep. 27, 2021 at 10:55 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Camryn Menke’s English teacher made her travel all the way to Dubuque from Davenport for what, at first glance, looks like a 1970s telephone booth.

”She was like, ‘If you guys end up going there you guys can get extra credit on your grade,’” Menke said.

But the “telephone booth” located on the Voices Building in the Millwork District, where Dupaco Credit Unit is now housed, is not just any telephone booth; it is a TelePoem booth, an interactive art experience that uses a telephone booth for the purpose of making poetry both fun and accessible to all.

”It is not a regular telephone, it just has poems in it and it is kind of cool,” Menke said, after playing with it for a little while.

Just minutes after Camryn left, Helen Stahl, also from Davenport, showed up.

”My husband, Dick Stahl, has two poems on here and he was not able to actually read the poems himself because he had cancer but he knew that they were chosen, so I am very proud to be here and listening to it,” Stahl said.

The TelePoem Booth features more then 800 poems, many of them written by Iowans. Visitors can step inside the booth, look up a poem in the provided poem book, and dial the number using a rotary telephone.

”With art, it really builds a community, it brings everyone together and we are hoping that the poem booth gets people experiencing different poetry, different styles of art and brings people even down to the neighborhood here in the Millwork District,” Emily Kress, communications specialist with Dupaco, said.

A partnership between Dupaco Credit Union and Voices Productions brought the booth to Dubuque. The installation will stay at the Voices building until February 2022, but will stay in Dubuque for an entire year. Dupaco Alley is the publicly accessible pedestrian walkway that connects East 10th and East 11th Streets at the Dupaco Voices Building in Dubuque.

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