Arlington Talking Chair Project

The Talking Chair put an interactive, digital twist on poetry at Robbins Library in April 2018.

The Chair featured thirty poems by Arlingtonians of all ages, read by the poets and was exhibited at Robbins Library in Arlington, Massachusetts in conjunction with National Poetry Month.

When a user took a seat, a recorded poem played from a speaker embedded in a vintage radio next to the chair. To hear a new poem, the user would rise and sit again.

Benefits of the project included:

  • Fostering appreciation for the work of local poets
  • Highlighting the role of the Library as a hub for authors
  • Making “poetry cool” for people who may not see themselves as poetry enthusiasts
  • Drawing people to the library to experience a novel interactive technology
  • Creating serendipitous moments of discovery for Library users

Arlington’s Poet Laureate, Cathie Desjardins, selected the poems to be featured. Download a PDF of all of the poems.

The “Talking Chair,” was conceptualized and developed by Emily Calvin-Bottis, a digital and interactive experience designer and Arlington resident, with support in part by a grant from the Arlington Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

The talking chair in the fiction room at Robbins Library