Skip to content
Dial-A-Poem: +1 (917) 994-8949
Dial-a-Poem UK +44 (0)20-4538-8429

In 1968, Giorno created Dial-A-Poem using a telephone service to communicate poetry in a modern idiom. More than one million people used the service, which inspired a range of artistic and commercial applications such as Dial-A-Joke, Dial Sports and Dial-A-Horoscope.

Text Image Right

Dial-A-Poem began at the Architectural League of New York in 1968, was at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 1969, and in the Information exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, curated by Kynaston McShine, in 1970. I released a series of 50 LP and CD albums called The Dial-A-Poem Poets in the 1970s and '80s, encouraging people to start to their own Dial-A-Poem, and use cuts from the albums along with their local poets. I have worked with sound engineer Bob Bielecki for more than 40 years.

In 2012, in the Ecstatic Alphabets exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, curated by Laura Hoptman, there was a retrospective of Dial-A-Poem. I chose 80 poets and 200 poems from over 5,000 poem recordings in the archive. Callers, using new technology, which allowed us to digitally receive limitless calls, randomly accessed the 200 poems. In 1968, we had 12 hard lines with industrial size answering machines. There were four phones in the MoMA gallery, with the 200 poems on a computer chip in each, randomly accessed.

Text Image Left

Dial-A-Poem 1968-’70 was unique in that it discovered the telephone as a venue of mass communication. On January 12, 1969, we received at quarter page review in The New York Times, which included the telephone number twice. We received millions of calls. The first day we gave off 250,000 busy signals at any one time, and the telephone company threatened to cut us off. This success led to many other newspaper and magazine reviews, always printing the phone number: Daily News, New York Post, Harpers Bazaar, Time, NBC's The Today Show, and The New Yorker, each time with the phone number, which made more people want to call. If a caller was bored with John Ashbery, they hung up and called again, and got John Cage, William Burroughs, Jim Carroll. I also discovered that creating a desire that is un-fulfillable is the ultimate success.

With Dial-A-Poem, I stumbled on the phenomena of the telephone as a new media, connecting three things: publicity, a telephone number, and content accessed by a huge audience. Before Dial-A-Poem, the telephone was used one-to-one. Dial-A-Poem’s success gave rise to a Dial-A-Something industry: from Dial-A-Joke, Dial-A-Horoscope, Dial-A-Stock Quotation, Dial Sports, to the 900 number paying for a call, to phone sex, and ever more extraordinary technology. Dial-A-Poem, by chance, ushered in a new era in telecommunications.”

- John Giorno on Dial-A-Poem, 2012

Text Image Left

2017 Red Bull Arts, New York, NY
2015 Palais de Tokyo, Paris, FR
1992 Poemfone, New York, US
1985 Montreal, CA
1983 Berlin and 12 Cities in West Germany, DE
1980 Amberson, PA, US
1976 TELEPOEM, Venice, CA, US
DIAL-A-POEM, Milwaukee, WI, US
Indianapolis, IN, US
Louisville, KY, US
1975 PHONE-A-POEM, Cambridge, MA, US
1973 Albany, NY, US
1972 The Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA, US
1970 The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, US
Amsterdam, NL
Cardiff, Wales, UK
London, UK
1969 The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, US
Operaseji Fers (Frisian Language), Leeuwarden, NL
1968 The Architectural League of New York, New York, NY, US

Image Left
Image Right

DIAL-A-POEM, THE ARCHITECTURAL LEAGUE OF NEW YORK, 1968

35 poets:

Vito Acconci
John Ashbery
Bill Berkson
Ted Berrigan
Joe Brainard
Jim Brody
Michael Brownstein
William Burroughs
John Cage
Joe Ceravolo
Andrea Codresco
Kenward Elmslie
Larry Fagin
Dick Gallup
Allen Ginsberg
John Giorno
Brion Gysin
David Henderson
Lenore Kandel
Kenneth Koch
Jackson MacLow
Gerard Malanga
Bernadette Mayer
Taylor Mead
Frank O’Hara
Ron Padgett
John Perreault
Ed Sanders
Peter Schjeldahl
Tony Towle
Tom Veitch
Diane Wakowski
Anne Waldman
Lewis Warsh
John Weiners
Emmett Williams

 

DIAL-A-POEM, MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, 1970

29 poets:
Joe Brainard
Ted Berrigan
Michael Brownstein
William Burroughs
John Cage
Eldridge Cleaver
Kathleen Cleaver
Diane DiPrima
Bernadine Dorn
Kenward Elmslie
Allen Ginsberg
John Giorno
Barbara Guest
Brion Gysin
Abbie Hoffman
Lenore Kandel
Lewis MacAdams
Bernadette Mayer
Renfreu Neff
Frank O’Hara
Lennox Raphael
Jerry Rothenberg
Aram Saroyan
Bobby Seale
John Sinclair
Diane Wakowski
Anne Waldman
Emmett Williams
Heathcote Williams

 

DIAL-A-POEM AT THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, 2012

79 poets:

Vito Acconci
Kathy Acker
Helen Adam
Miguel Algarin
Laurie Anderson
Penny Arcade
John Ashbery
Amiri Baraka
Bill Berkson
Charles Bernstein
Ted Berrigan
Joe Brainard
Michael Brownstein
Charles Bukowski
William Burroughs
David Byrne
John Cage
Jim Carroll
Nick Cave
Tom Clark
Clark Coolidge
Gregory Corso
Jayne Cortez
Robert Creeley
Diane Di Prima
Ed Dorn
Robert Duncan
Kenward Elmslie
Karen Finley
Four Horsemen,
Diamanda Galas
Allen Ginsberg
John Giorno
Daniela Gioseffi
Philip Glass
Barbara Guest
Brion Gysin
Jessica Hagedorn
Deborah Harry
Bernard Heidsieck
David Henderson
Bob Holman
Husker Du
Lenore Kandel
Kenneth Koch
Denise Levertov
Frank Lima
Jackson MacLow
Bernadette Mayer
Michael McClure
Taylor Mead
Eileen Myles
Frank O’Hara
Maureen Owen
Ron Padgett
Miquel Pinero
Lennox Raphael
Rene Ricard
Jerome Rothenberg
Aram Saroyan
Peter Schjeldahl
John Sinclair
Patti Smith
Gary Snyder
Jack Spicer
Lorenzo Thomas
Tony Towle
Paul Violi
Cabaret Voltaire
Andrei Vosnesensky
Tom Waits
Diane Wakowski
Anne Waldman
Lewis Warsh
Philip Whelan
John Wieners
Emmett Williams
Sonic Youth
Frank Zappa

Sound engineer: Bob Bielecki

DIAL-A-POEM PUSH-BUTTON EDITION, COMPILED 2019:

130 poets:

Vito Acconci
Kathy Acker
Helen Adam
Miguel Algarin
Cabaret Voltaire
Charles Amirkhanian
Beth Anderson
Laurie Anderson
Penny Arcade
John Ashbery
Robert Ashley
Amiri Baraka
Barbara Barg
Bill Berkson
Charles Bernstein
Ted Berrigan
Paul Blackburn
Joe Brainard
Glenn Branca
Jim Brody
Otis Brown
Michael Brownstein
Charles Bukowski
William Burroughs
William Burroughs Jr.
David Byrne
John Cage
Jim Carroll
Charlotte Carter
Nick Cave
Tom Clark
Coil
Clark Coolidge
Gregory Corso
Jayne Cortez
Robert Creeley
Jackie Curtis
Edwin Denby
Diane Di Prima
Ed Dorn
Didi Susan Dubelyew
Robert Duncan
Kenward Elmslie
Karen Finley
Diamanda Galas
Allen Ginsberg
John Giorno
Daniela Gioseffi
Michael Gira
Philip Glass
Peter Gordon
Ted Greenwald
Barbara Guest
Brion Gysin
Jessica Hagedorn
Deborah Harry
Bernard Heidsieck
Richard Hell
David Henderson
Henry Rollins Band
Bob Holman
Four Horsemen
Susan Howe
Eric Huggins
Husker Du
David Johansen
Joe Johnson
Lenore Kandel
Ken Kesey
Bill Knott
Kenneth Koch
Rochelle Kraut
Joanne Kyger
Denise Levertov
Frank Lima
Arto Lindsay
Lydia Lunch
Jackson MacLow
Bernadette Mayer
Steve McCafferty
Michael McClure
Taylor Mead
W.S. Merwin
Robin Messing
Meredith Monk
Charlie Morrow
Eileen Myles
Einsturzende Neubauten
Frank O’Hara
Claes Oldenburg
Charles Olson
Joel Oppenheim
New Order
Peter Orlovsky
Maureen Owen
Rochelle Owens
Ron Padgett
Charles Plymell
Lennox Raphael
Ishmael Reed
Rene Ricard
Trungpa Rinpoche
Jerome Rothenberg
Ed Sanders
Aram Saroyan
Peter Schjeldahl
John Sinclair
Patti Smith
Gary Snyder
Jack Spicer
Charles Stein
Chris Stein
Ned Sublette
Lorenzo Thomas
Tony Towle
Psychic TV
David Van Tieghem
Paul Violi
Andrei Vosnesensky
Tom Waits
Diane Wakowski
Anne Waldman
Lewis Warsh
Tom Weatherly
Philip Whelan
John Wieners
Emmett Williams
Robert Wilson & Christopher Knowles
Sonic Youth
Frank Zappa

Sound engineer: Bob Bielecki

Large Image

Downloadable Items

Press Scrapbook for Dial-A-Poem at The Architectural League of New York, 1969-1970, compiled by John Giorno
Press Scrapbook for Dial-A-Poem at The Museum of Modern Art, 1970, compiled by John Giorno
Log Book for Dial-A-Poem at The Architectural League of New York, New York, 1968-1969
Log Book for Dial-A-Poem at the Museum of Modern Art, 1969-1970, by John Giorno (1)
Log Book for Dial-A-Poem at the Museum of Modern Art, 1969-1970, by John Giorno (2)
Log Book for Dial-A-Poem at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1969
Back To Top