“Call me Ishmael. Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off – then, I account it time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball. With a philosophical flourish, Cato throws himself upon his sword; I quietly take to the ship.” Herman Melville, Moby Dick

Two bibliophiles walk into a bar and talk books, sharing favorite opening sentences? “Call me Ishmael,” one says, referring to the celebrated opening line of Moby DickThe two begin to speculate, “What if Ishmael had a phone number?” … and now Ishmael does.


This post includes several absolutely delightful videos by way of experiencing Call Me Ishmael. If you are reading this from an email subscription, you’ll likely have to link through to the site to view them. Each is under two minutes.

CALL ME ISHMAEL is a website founded by Stephanie Kent and Logan Smalley in 2014 subsequent to their conversation. It presents messages people leave in voicemail for Ishmael. The messages left are about favorite books: the beauty and pleasure enjoyed, the inspiration gained, the way lives changed, or how reading the book led to some special and unexpected experience.

There are more than a thousand stories and every type of book represented – poetry, nonfiction, books for children, youth and adults, and both literary and genre fiction.

In the past “Ishmael” transcribed a message with founder faves, featured each week and shared on the website and through social media platforms. Under “Galley Calls” visitors could listen to recordings of calls and vote on whether Ishmael should edit, transcribe and feature the voicemail message.

More recently I noted there haven’t been new videos in a while and I contacted Stephanie and Logan.  Here’s the response:

Hi Jamie, We are still active, but focusing more on our Call Me Ishmael Phone program than posting calls. Planning to kickstart the videos in the next few months, though, so check back in soon  …  Thanks!


This is a fun site. I love listening to the videos. I suspect you might as well. Check in periodically for the promised new videos … and maybe call in yourself. There’s also a volunteer opportunity (1-2 hours a week) to help with “Galley Calls” and other projects.

Here’s are sample videos ~


This is one young woman’s experience with an old favorite of mine, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, the book that started so many young women on our path as writers.

This one on the Harry Potter series is from Nathan, “the boy who lived.”  Grab a tissue.

The YouTube Channel is HERE.

“A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.” Italo Calvino, The Uses of Literature

Photograph – 1940s rotary telephone – is courtesy of Kornelia und Hartmut Häfel under CC BY-SA 3.0 license


Poet and writer, I was once columnist and the associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers.

My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation Press, The River Journal, The Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman.

Thank you!

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