“Years ago," writes Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein at LunaLuna on March 3, 2014, "when I would get overwhelmed, I used to call the Kelly Writers House and listen to a poem wherever I happened to be. They feature poets who have read for them, as well as their own faculty and students (the latter at a different extension)." The number is 215-746-POEM (215-746-7636). She also provides information for two other dial-a-poem services.
About a year ago Curtis Fox, who produces and hosts a weekly poetry podcast for the Poetry Foundation, spoke with me about our dial-a-poem project, which is part of a telephone system we at the Writers House set up, figuring that it was beginning to be, or was well into, an age once again in which telephony was the site of convergence for many if not all things communication. Which is a probably an over-fancy way of saying something obvious about how many of us walk around with smartphones and do email, texting and of course phone-calling on the one portable device. So when our email weekly calendars get sent out, listing and linking to upcoming events at the Writers House for the coming week, at the top of that announcement is our phone number: 215-746-POEM (215-746-7636). When you're looking at this emailed announcement on a smartphone, the device will automatically make a kind of hyperlink of the phone number (it knows to do this for every 10-digit number it sees). Touch that link or scroll to it and hit your button, and the phone will automatically dial it. Because of this, we figured we ought to be there with some cool telephony, retro and cutting-edge both. Try dialing 215-746-7636 right now and see what I mean. Press "3" and you'll hear a single poem recording from PennSound - a poem read at the Writers House. Press "4" and you'll hear a 1-minute performance from a member of the Writers House community. Click here and listen to Curtis Fox's interview with me about this new/old version of "dial-a-poem."