Howl and Other Poems was published in the fall...

City Lights Books' Pocket Poets Series made poetry portable.

I started this post back in October, before becoming aware of quite a number of Poetry Apps for smartphones — that’s what I get for being stuck with a BlackBerry Storm, which sucks at storing apps and is so bad that no one in their right mind would write an app for it much less have one…er…ah…yeah.

Anyway, I’ll amend this post at the end with a few links to good lists of apps, which you can try if you are an iPhone or iPad user or perhaps even an HTC or Android user.  At some point, I’ll join you.  Here’s what I wrote in October:

My pal Andy Swan had a lively dialogue recently that I overheard on Twitter.   He was talking about letting innovators innovate and not be beholden to some altruistic standard that dictates what they should work on.

(Microlending site Kiva.org is wrestling with this question, too, as they recently admitted their main competitor is, well, “Farmville,” the game where you can waste time tending a virtual farm instead of helping Kiva build real farms.)

Anyway, one of Andy’s points was about whether innovators should focus on solving societal ills or focus on solving problems that gnaw at them.

“What if Edison[‘s] not being able to read at night is not a legitimate problem while others starve,” Andy wrote.

He went on to say, “Innovators should build what they love.  The market will distribute.”

I wondered what I would build if I were to just build what I love.  And it got me thinking.  I would love to build a new way of distributing poetry; one that makes it easy, portable and enjoyable for people.

What I’m thinking is something between and app and a book.  As transformational as City Lights BooksPocket Poets series, only with better design and more consistent, high quality poetry.

Of course — like my idea from over a decade ago for a poetry cable TV channel — there’s no money in it. Would that my interests were more like the virtual corruption you can participate in on “Mafia Wars,” but there it is.

I mentioned the idea to a dear friend of mine who said that perhaps I’m wrong; maybe there is a market for it. Not a huge market, perhaps, but certainly more than just a handful.

What features would you want in such an app, device, or “book”?  Searchable index by poet, title, first line, assumed first line, theme, occasion, time-period, style?

It wouldn’t have to be a huge amount of storage on a device or would it? Could it be in the cloud and accessed via the cloud? Would you have to build in incentives for people to continue using it, contests, triva, etc.?

I’m just throwing this out there and will wrestle with it down the road. I may even pull together a Survey Monkey to gauge the interest need for features, and where the money is going to come from.

 

Well, it turned out there are quite a few apps out there already, so my idea was a little late in the game.  Here are some links to some lists of apps you may want to explore:

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)

I like what Spear, a poet and editor of The Rumpus, says in that last post about his ideal poetry app (back in May of 2010!):

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.

Has that need been met?  Do you have a poetry app you recommend?  Do you want to build one with me?  What would you build if you could build what you love?

 

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