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Downtown Vancouver now has a poetry hotline

Ever needed a quick hit of local poetry while on the SkyTrain or walking the dog?
Anyone can call the Poetry Phone now thanks to the Downtown Vancouver BIA.

"Hello, and welcome to the Poetry Phone," says a voice when you call 1-833-POEMS-4-U.

That's because it's the number for Downtown Vancouver's Poetry Phone, a new project launched last week. It features 10 pieces by 10 locals poets, all there anytime someone needs a bit of spoken art.

"The Poetry Phone is Vancouver’s first free poetry hotline and can be called from any cellular device or landline, 24 hours a day, throughout 2021," states the Downtown Vancouver BIA (DVBIA) in a press release.

When you dial up the number (1-833-763-6748) you can select from one of 10 poems, each read by the poets. Recordings range from 40 seconds to almost 4 minutes.

"Our goal is to bring a new and accessible format of uplifting entertainment to anyone who has felt social isolation during the difficult times this past year," states the DVBIA.

They partnered with Renee Sarojini Saklikar for the project; Saklikar is an award-winning local poet, known for works like her book 'children of air india.' She's curates the pieces, including one of her own.

The poetry featured includes Dina Del Bucchia's duo of Celebrity Otter: Nyac and Celebrity Otter: MiloGauntlet by Otoniya Juliane Okot Bitek and Best Friend, Worst Thing You Can Say by Charles Demers.

“2020 has been a challenging year for many people, and it’s the small things that can bring joy to someone’s day,” says Charles Gauthier, CEO of the DVBIA, in the release. “The Poetry Phone is a simple way to bring a smile to people’s faces and celebrate the work of local artists.”

The DVBIA has also set up a website with the recordings and more information about the poetry for those who'd prefer that.