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You can dial-a-poem daily this month thanks to Oregon’s Poet Laureate

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Tristan Paiige
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Oregon Cultural Trust
Anis Mojgani is Oregon's tenth Poet Laureate.

For National Poetry Month, Oregon’s Poet Laureate has created a hotline people can call to get a poem a day.

If you call 503-928-7008 any day this month, you can hear an Oregon Poet Laureate reading one of their poems.

Oregon’s current Poet Laureate, Anis Mojgani, told KLCC he’s thought a lot about how telephones can connect people with art.

“I was walking around sometime in the summer, the first summer of the pandemic, and just kind of thinking of different ways I might be able to explore being the Poet Laureate under the umbrella of the pandemic,” he said.” And I saw what seemed to be, at first it looked a kind of like a telephone booth, even though it wasn’t. It was some sort of I think maybe a construction shed or a porta-potty or something, I don’t know. And I was thinking, ‘Oh what if there was like a telephone booth randomly in my neighborhood where I could go and pick up the phone and call and record a poem or could call and hear a poem. So, that was sort of like the impetus for wanting to explore this idea.”

Mojgani described what he hopes people will get out of dialing for a poem.

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Instagram
Mojgani shared this post on social media.

“The thing that I hope is that it, one, both gives anybody who calls a small reprieve from the noise and the chaos and the confusion that I think is very very prevalent around all of us these days,” he said. “And, two, that hopefully as a result of that reprieve, that might ripple out further into that day and ripple out further into how they engage with themselves and how they engage with those they bump across. I think that right now is such a tumultuous time and it’s very confusing and uncertain and it’s very much filled with a lot of suffering of varying degrees. So I think to allow someone to enter into a space that they don’t know what they will receive but there’s a possibility it will be something sweet, that it’ll be something good, that it’ll be something giving and that they’re able to shut down the rest of the noise and even take two, three minutes out of their day to have a small moment of quiet. And hopefully they can walk around through the rest of their day carrying that moment of quiet intimacy.”

The first week of April featured Oregon’s sixth Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen.

This month, you can also hear poems from other former laureates Elizabeth Woody and Kim Stafford, and from Mojgani.

Mojgani says he hopes to continue a new project: sunset poetry readings out of his studio window in Portland.

You can dial a poem daily throughout the month of April at 503-928-7008.

Copyright 2022 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s former News Director. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000. After reporting for the Northwest News Network and KAZU, Rachael returned to KLCC in 2007 as Morning Edition host and a general assignment reporter covering politics, the environment, education, and the arts. She was hired as KLCC News Director in 2018. Rachael departed KLCC in June, 2022.