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.