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If you’re looking for a spark of inspiration when reading or listening to poetry, this free educational app from the Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation is a must-have, offering a treasure trove of verse from some of the world’s most celebrated poets tucked within a well-imagined and entertaining design.
There’s a lot to explore, with over 100 poems from 16 sensational poets (Rudyard Kipling, John Keats, Sylvia Plath, Marianne Moore), and a tidy biography on each of them. The real magic is found in the readings of these poems by over 30 award-winning performers, playwrights, and actors.
Hart suggested that ‘poetry comes alive when read aloud’ and this is perfectly presented in Harold Pinter’s conversational cadence and timbre when channeling the ghost of Philip Larkin in his rendition of ‘Poetry in Departures’. Frieda Hughes’ reading of her mother’s work (Sylvia Plath’s ‘Edge’) is profoundly magnetic; her soft tonality playfully contrasting the grisly subject matter. In one of the more classical poems, the reading places Jeremy Irons upon the throne of a tormented Satan (the broody biblical anti-hero from Paradise Lost). His resonant thespian voice is faultless in his rebellious call-to-arms against heaven.
The interface of the app is lighthearted, opening on a cozy Victorian study complete with crackling fire and a blinking memento-mori skull; you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d opened a Sherlock Holmes murder mystery game. Instead, the tappable pictures on the wall are portals to a celestial library of the poets, poetry, and their performers.
Some of the navigational aspects of the app are difficult to use and finding the poem you’re after can be a bit of a hunt, but with the search bar you can quickly skip the user interface and find what you’re looking for. There’s a lot of joy in the hidden ‘Easter Egg’ elements of the app; try clicking on the trophy boar’s head for a video of Bob Geldof performing John Keats’ ‘I Cry Your Mercy’.
In life, Josephine Hart was a well-respected Irish novelist and lover of all things literary. With her death from cancer in 2011, The Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation was founded to continue her work in bringing spoken poetry to a larger audience, and this app certainly goes a long way to achieving her aspirations.
The Poetry App
By The Josephine Hart Foundation
Books | Reference
Platform: iOS (iPad and iPhone) | Android
Jack Andrew Lenton