Call Oregon’s Poetry Hotline to Hear a New Poem Every Day This Month

The hotline, created by the state’s poet laureate, has already received thousands of callers

National Poetry Month Phone
Poetry lovers can call 503-928-7008 to hear a new daily poem through the end of April. DeAgostini / Getty Images

Anis Mojgani was named Oregon’s poet laureate in April 2020, just weeks after the Covid-19 lockdowns began. Without live poetry readings or other in-person gatherings, he started thinking about ways to bring together lovers of literature safely.

One day, during an evening walk, he had an idea: the Daily Tele-Pomes Telephone Line.

“Hello,” a voice on the line greets. “Thank you for calling Oregon’s telephone poetry hotline, where throughout April, National Poetry Month, you can call and listen to a poem being read for you. Please stay on the line to hear today’s poem.”

Following some delays, the project debuted in 2022. Since then, Oregon’s poetry hotline has returned every year, bringing curious callers their daily dose of wisdom and wordplay throughout National Poetry Month. Anyone can dial in to hear a poem.

“There’s something really interesting and beautiful about a machine that bridges distance,” Mojgani told Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Steven Tonthat soon after the hotline debuted. “Particularly in the time that we live in right now, when we are struggling for human relationships and intimacy, the telephone, strangely enough, can provide that.”

The project is now in its third year. NPR’s Deena Prichep reports that in the first two weeks of April, the hotline received over 2,000 calls from across the country.

“It’s something I very much look forward to, listening to it over lunch and just kind of digesting it,” Portland resident Becky Tucker tells NPR.

Tucker has introduced friends to the hotline and often shares the poems with her children. She enjoys talking with her loved ones about the poems, which are an “unexpected gift,” she says. “It just kind of made my group of people feel closer.”

The poetry hotline delivers a fresh poem every day. However, for those who want to hear more or missed a day, the recorded message can also queue up yesterday’s poem and find other poems from the line’s archive.

Featured poets include Charles ValleSusan Leslie Moore and Mojgani himself. On April 19, callers heard Jon Sands read a sweet poem for his two-year-old’s birthday. “You beautiful little resilient. You booger maker,” he begins.

“I was honestly surprised by how quickly and lovingly so many people seemed to respond and connect to the prospect of calling a number and hearing a poem,” Mojgani told the Oregonian’s Samantha Swindler in 2022. “Which is lovely, and I think rather telling of our current lives—that a few minutes of a stranger sharing into our ear a moment of personal reflection, sharing through something as cold as a telephone a moment of quieting intimacy, reveals feasibly a something of want in us.”

Those who are interested in hearing a daily poem at the hotline can call 503-928-7008. After dialing and listening in, a voice bids its audience farewell.

“Thank you for calling Oregon’s poetry telephone line,” the voice says. “Please call again. I hope today has found you gently.”

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