App Review: POETRY from The Poetry Foundation


April is National Poetry Month! Why not take a selection of poems with you everywhere with the help of an app? POETRY, the appropriately-titled but obnoxiously capitalized app from The Poetry Foundation (publishers of Poetry magazine), can help you search for and save your favorite poems. You can also find new poems to love with the help of the “Discover Poetry” feature, which caused me to happily while away a good amount of time while writing this review.

“Poetry Library” by John Zacherle on Flickr

Poetry Library” by John Zacherle on Flickr, made available under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license

The app opens and presents you with a curious button: “Spin.” Hitting this button starts a scrolling rainbow of options which eventually settles on a mood and a subject. On my first try I got “Humor & Youth,” which displayed 25 poems beneath the header. Dragging the colored bar displaying the mood, I was delighted to find that you can search by any combination of mood and subject and the app will display poems that are tagged with both. From gloomy combinations such as “Boredom & Love” to the more colorful “Joy & Celebrations,” this approach allows for an interactive and engaging discovery process. My one complaint is that this view displays only the title of the poem and not the author, so I ended up selecting a number of titles that I would have otherwise avoided. On the other hand, perhaps this allows for serendipitous discovery and destruction of literary comfort zones, or at least the element of surprise.

If you’re looking for poems by a specific author, or trying to locate a poem by title or by a line or phrase, there is also a “Find Poetry” search feature. This may be more useful for poems you have encountered while using the Poetry Foundation website or the POETRY app, as the collection is necessarily somewhat limited. The mobile collection does not include all of the poems available on the Poetry Foundation website, probably due to the issues inherent in obtaining the correct permissions. What the app does contain are poems from Poetry magazine, poems in the public domain, and those poems for which the app creators have secured mobile permissions. New poems are added on a monthly basis.

There is a sharing function which allows you to integrate your Twitter, Facebook, and/or email account. Otherwise, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal of integration between the app and the website proper, so your favorites appear to be accessible only within the app interface. The only other distracting element of the app is its (understandable) struggle to represent poetic structure, so line breaks and irregular spacing may not be reproduced faithfully.

I will admit that I downloaded this app in order to review it, but I’m not giving it up. I will be celebrating throughout April and beyond by browsing through its collection while on the bus, waiting in line, and probably in many other places throughout Pittsburgh. (Don’t worry, Twitter app, I still love you. But it’s National Poetry Month.)

POETRY is available for iOS and Android.

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