Brian Spears

Poet, Editor, Teacher, Blogger.

A New Poetry App for the iPhone

Currently, on my iPhone, I have the following poetry-related apps: Vogon Poetry, Poem Flow (reviewed here), iPhrase (like magnetic poetry), WGBH Poetry (videos mostly), multiple e-reader programs, and now, the app from the Poetry Foundation.

I’ve had the Poetry Foundation app for a few days now and I have to say it’s a fun little app as poetry apps go. The interface is unique in that it takes advantage of the motion sensors in the iPhone. You shake the phone (or press the button which says “spin”) and two bands of rectangles containing categories spin one atop the other. Once the spinning has stopped, the app generates a list of poems that coincide with that combination of categories. Here’s what it looks like:

The poems come from both the Poetry Magazine archives and from public domain poems, best as I can tell, and the interface is fun to play with. You can “share” the individual poems via Twitter, Facebook and Email, as well as favorite the ones you like best, which provides you with easy access to them later, should you wish.

You can also search for poems directly, using keyword, title or author searches, or you can browse by mood or subject. The subject groupings are: Youth, Aging, Family, Love, Nature, Spirituality, Commitment, & Work and Play. The two subjects missing, I think, are War and Death, even though there are poems in the library which would fall into both categories easily–Wilfred Owens’ “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” for instance, is in the Aging category. But that’s a minor quibble.

The failing of most poetry apps, at least from my perspective, is that they don’t expand much. Updates are sporadic, assuming they happen at all. What I hope happens with this app is that they continue to add content–new poems from the latest issues of Poetry in particular–and I wouldn’t mind if they threw in the occasional essay either, though that sort of content might require its own application.

The poetry app of my dreams is an aggregator, one that scans the web daily for new publications and then pulls them into a reader. It would need to push traffic to the online journals of origin and would have to include a way to limit the places you receive poetry from–maybe set it up so that the user gets a poem from a place and then decides whether or not to receive future updates from that journal. Swindle is a start toward that on the web, but I haven’t found anything like that for the iPhone yet.


May 20, 2010 - Posted by | poetry, Uncategorized


  1. […] The Poetry Foundation has entered App World. You can read my review here. […]

    Pingback by Poetic Lives Online « Brian Spears | May 22, 2010 | Reply


    Think there’s a market for light verse? I’ve written hundreds of timely rhymes–short, long & impossible–
    that people generally chuckle over. Some have appeared in
    the New York Times (the latest on March 15, the next on Sept. 13.)

    Whom could I work with to fashion them into an application?

    I’d greatly appreciate any suggestion.


    Leon Freilich

    Comment by Leon Freilich | August 20, 2010 | Reply

  3. […] Quick Access to Poetry in the Age of Technology (NY Times) An essential poetry app as addictive as raspberries (Poetry Foundation) Poetry Apps (Randall Weiss blog) Poetry Apps (Emerging Writer blog) Apps for Poets (App Advice b log) A New Poetry App for the iPhone (Brian Spear) […]

    Pingback by “Build What You Love”: The Search for the Perfect Poetry App « Scott Edward Anderson's Poetry Blog | August 13, 2011 | Reply

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