Artist Mike Sprague is creating the poetry phone booth. Courtesy photo 

‘Poetry phone’ will call on Concordians to indulge their love of words 

April 15, 2024

By Holly Camero and Laurie O’Neill — Correspondents 

It makes you “laugh, cry, prickle, be silent” and causes “your toenails to twinkle.”  

That’s Dylan Thomas describing poetry’s effect on readers or listeners. And whether you giggle or gasp or are moved to tears, the West Concord Junction Cultural District Committee wants to make poetry more accessible in a creative way while celebrating Concord’s long-standing love of words. 

The committee plans to provide a free public experience: Visitors can step into a vintage phone booth and spend a quiet moment or two listening to a poem.    

The solar-powered installation will be set up off the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail on Beharrell Street, in front of the Brookside Apartments. Starting in May, you can listen to a poem recorded in the poet’s voice. A roster of nine audio recordings will be refreshed periodically throughout 2024. A menu in the booth will list each poem’s title and author.  

Writers who live, work, or attend school in Concord are invited to submit their original poetry for the phone. A review committee will select nine poems, and once the choices are made, the poets will be asked to record their pieces.  

Poems should be two minutes long when read. Their subject matter and language must be appropriate for the general public.  

A literary focus

Project Director Jennifer Hurley-Wales, who has helped produce Porchfest for the cultural committee, heard about a similar project in Ohio in which people could hear inspirational messages. She envisioned a local phone booth that would offer original poetry.  

Of all the projects the committee had previously tackled, “we didn’t have one that focused on literary arts,” she said, “so this seemed like a natural.”  

The project team includes Mike Sprague, a West Concord artist who designed the mural on the Freeman trail, who is building a sturdy replica of an old phone booth. Artist Edward Feather, who in 2022 led a group in painting a mural on the side of Beharrell Street facing the post office, is helping with electronics. Anne Mauk is the poetry outreach coordinator.  

“We are probably going to change things as we go because it’s a new idea and program, and we want to be adaptable,” Hurley-Wales said.  

If the committee receives more than nine poems, she hopes to post the others on the town website. “We want to find ways to be more inclusive and give more recognition [to local poets],” she said.   

Poems can be uploaded at The first deadline is April 19.