Dial-A-Poem (Montreal)

September 1985 to July 1987

Conception and production: Fortner Anderson

Dial-A-Poem Montreal was a phone-based poetry service started in 1985. It was inspired by John Giorno’s Dial-A-Poem in New York and it sought to expand poetry beyond the limits of print. Listeners called 843-7636 (THE-POEM) anytime of the day to hear a recorded poem. The poems presented on Dial-A-Poem were recorded exclusively for the service.

Several Montreal bookstores, local businesses and even a political campaign supported the service by purchasing ads which ran after each reading.

The service often received about 200 phone calls a day and over the life of the project over 150 poets contributed.

Dial-A-Poem Montreal participated in Canada’s eighth National Book Festival in April 1986 by showcasing a poem by a participating poet for each day of the festival. It celebrated its first anniversary September 1986 with a 100 Poets Party, where 11 hours of continuous recorded performance poetry was presented at Galerie Articule.

Though predominantly showcasing Anglophone poets in Montreal, Dial-A-Poem Montreal also aired the work of poets from Vancouver who sent their recordings to Dial-A-Poem Montreal. Poets who read on Dial-A-Poem Montreal include: Erin Mouré, Howard Tessler, Bill Furey, Errol MacDonald, Raymond Filip, Clifford Duffy, Laurence Hutchman, Michael Toppings, Anne McLean, Roo Borson, Daphne Marlatt, Tom Wayman, Claudia Lapp, Elizabeth Allen, Patrick Lane, Lorna Crozier, Peter van Toorn, Endre Farkas, Brian Bartlett, Michael Harris, Noah Zacharin, Leo Kennedy, Esther Ross, Johanne Lafleur, Margaret Christakos, R.G. Everson, Louis Dudek, Irving Layton, Kathy Acker, Lynne Tillman, Chris Kraus, Sylvere Lotringer, David Rattray, Edmundo Farolan, Manuel Betanzos Santos, Shulamis Yelin, and Renato Trujillo.

In 2019, Archive Montreal began a project to archive, catalogue and make public the recordings of Dial-A-Poem Montreal.