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English lecturer holds literary event in a telephone box for Being Human festival

Dr Sarah Jackson held three events as part of Being Human festival, focusing on the impact of the telephone on our daily lives

DiallingIn coffee shop, the location for Switchboard II
Dr Sarah Jackson's event 'Switchboard II' at DiallingIn coffee shop

Dr Sarah Jackson, BA (Hons) English lecturer, held three events in Nottingham as part of Being Human festival this November. The festival, which is the only national festival of the humanities in the UK, aims to engage the public with big questions regarding the challenges of the modern world.

The first of a series of three ‘Switchboard’ events, a workshop exploring the cultural history of the telephone, took place in Nottingham Industrial Museum. Visitors were encouraged to consider the telephone’s journey through history, from the earliest model to the children’s Mickey Mouse character telephone. The unique venue also held a local relevance due to the collections of telephones produced in Nottingham itself. Writers of all abilities took part in the workshop, feeling inspired and supported to create work based on the theme, eventually creating a group poem which would be shared at the final event.

During Switchboard II, the literary event in a telephone box
A visitor to the event about to leave their voicemail message

‘Switchboard II’ took place in a more unusual venue – the smallest coffee shop in Nottingham. DiallingIn coffee shop, situated on Low Pavement in Nottingham’s city centre, is a reconditioned telephone box serving hot drinks and pastries to those shopping or working in the area. As part of Dr Jackson’s event, customers also left a voicemail message in the adjoining telephone box, discussing their thoughts and feelings about telephones, or leaving a message for someone they can no longer speak to. These messages were to be used in the next event in the series and to inform further work on the subject.

The final event of the week was a culmination of the ideas and inspiration that had been developed throughout the project. Hosted by popular poetry jam venue Wired Café, the voicemail messages recorded at DiallingIn were played, before giving space for poets to share their own work on the subject.

Both students and staff from Nottingham Trent University presented their work, as well as other local poets. The poetry ranged from wrong numbers and last phone calls to long-distance love and calling Dr Who. The evening also featured a special guest in writer Russ Litten, author of books such as “Scream If You Want To Go Faster” and “Swear Down”.

Find out more about Being Human festival here:

English lecturer holds literary event in a telephone box for Being Human festival

Published on 30 November 2017
  • Category: Culture; School of Arts and Humanities

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