PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregonians can now dial a hotline featuring local poets during National Poetry Month.
Throughout the month of April, people can call a number and hear poems from various Oregon Poet Laureates, such as Elizabeth Woody and Kim Stafford. Anis Mojgani, Oregon’s current poet laureate, came up with the idea of the hotline during the pandemic after spotting a telephone booth in Southeast Portland.
So far, the hotline has received about 1,000 phone calls from 12 states across the country, including some international calls.
“It’s very revealing as regards to what is the current state of our individual lives and how chaotic and loud and moving that is,” said Mojgani. “There is obviously and apparently a hunger or a want for some type of quiet or connection or intimacy that we as people are not getting in the ways that we need in our day-to-day lives.”
With the help of his friend, he created the hotline in two weeks.
Mojgani said his time taking long walks during the pandemic forced him to brainstorm creative ways to use his position during an unprecedented time. In years past, poet laureates were able to travel to cities and towns to be in direct communication with communities to talk about all things poetry.
The hotline now brings a form of accessibility to various communities in the state.
“Hopefully for two or three minutes out of someone’s day, that ripples through the rest of the day when they call and hear the voice of a person, they don’t know talking to them about robins and springtime,” he said. “That there’s something loud inside of themselves that gets quieted a little bit and they get to carry that bit of peace throughout the rest of the day.”
The project was funded by the Oregon Poet Laureate program, the Oregon Cultural Trust and the Academy of American Poets.
You can call the hotline at 503-928-7008.