Dial the number 845 384 2445 on your cell phone. It’s free. You will be offered a short poem. This is not a new idea. Rather it’s a nice way to share some humanity. Each month a poet or songwriter will offer a short poem or lyric. The number may change but the service will remain the same. Fred Duignan is featured until the end of February, 2018.
There was this bar named The Waldorf in Passaic, New Jersey where the group of poets named for the literary magazine Lunch drank, wrote, caroused and grew into the current Red Wheelbarrow Poets group based in Rutherford, New Jersey. In the early 1970s we used the Rutherford campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University’s English Department as our headquarters. Rutherford being the location of Dr. Williams’ home and pediatric practice at 9 Ridge Road seemed like a naturally fated fit. Jim Klein, Mike O’Brien, Jeff Nulle, Tom DePoto, Laura Boss, Bob Quatrone and Duane Edwards who taught there Pete Baumann, Roe Sonye, Sandy McGuiness, Gianni Intili, Paul Santucci and many others who pursued degrees there as well as myself who could never pass up on a good party published in a whirlwind of our own making. It took us to real, imaginary and sometimes dangerous places. Most have survived until this day.
Now the names listed above mean nothing to those of you who never met nor read them and I will not endeavor to familiarize you with them. Trust me when I say these people whom I call family are the cornerstones of my poetic output although my primary focus for the last 40+ years has been painting.
I am not going to speak to stylistic issues. Listen to the poem Williams’ Plums that I recorded for Dial-a-Poem and decide for yourselves. I will combine both poetry and painting in an exhibition at the Greenkill Gallery in Kingston, New York in May 2018. I hope to see you there.
Dial-A-Poem is a phone-based service started in 1968 by poet John Giorno after a phone conversation with his friend William Burroughs. Fifteen phone lines were connected to individual answering machines; anyone could phone Giorno Poetry Systems and listen for free to a poem offered from various live recordings.
The venture was a success from 1969 on, and the poems dealt with numerous social issues such as the Vietnam War and the sexual revolution. Giorno claimed the service later influenced the creation of other information services over the telephone, such as banking, sports, and investing.