This week, I explored some poetry apps on my iPhone and discovered that poetry and technology can make a fantastic pair.  Having instant access to a library of poetry on my phone feels like such a delightful treat, and a way to connect with poetry whether I’m relaxing at home, riding the bus, or waiting in line at the grocery store.  Out of the three apps I’ve examined below, I’d have a hard time recommending just one — what’s great is that you won’t have to choose, because they’re all free.

Poem Flow from American Academy of Poets

Poem Flow for iPhone from the American Academy of Poets. Above is Ursula Le Guin's The Maenads in both regular and Poem Flow format.

Poem Flow is a poetry app for the iPhone by the American Academy of Poets.  The app’s about page describes it as “a box of perfect poems, unfolded one-per-day and shared as one around the world.”  And it’s true; this app really does feel like a little treasure box on my phone.

The interface design is simple, sparse, and very aesthetically pleasing.  Users have the option to view poems in regular text or in “flow” which causes the words to appear and move on the screen as a movie.  I wasn’t sure if I would like this function, but tried it and found it incredibly pleasing.  Users can control the speed in which the words appear, and I found myself savoring each word as they slowly appeared on the screen.

Functionally and visually, this app is outstanding for poetry.  Where it falls a little flat is in the number of poems available. The app boasts poem-a-day delivery, but without a paid upgrade, users only get one week of free poems, with a backlog of 13 — 20 poems total.  After that, it’s $.99 for three months (100 poems) or $2.99 for 1 year (365 poems).  This is of course a small price to pay for a month or year of great poetry, but when compared to the number of poems available for free from the POETRY app reviewed below, users will have to weigh whether they like the “flow” feature enough to pay for it.


POETRY app from the Poetry Foundation

POETRY app for iPhone and Android.

POETRY is an app for iPhone and Android mobile devices created by the Poetry Foundation.  On POETRY, users can browse for poems by topic by “spinning” the top two bars that contain moods and subjects — like poetry Wheel of Fortune!  A search page also allows users to browse by mood and subject separately, as well as by poet and audio selections.

There are hundreds of poems to choose from, including a good number of audio selections.  Poems displayed in the app come from Poetry magazine, poems in the public domain, and other poems that the Poetry Foundation has mobile permissions for, and new poems are added each month.  The interface for reading the poems is not as simple and pleasing as Poem Flow, but in general the app is attractive and intuitive, and the large number of poems to choose from more than makes up it.

Verses Poetry Creator from Tiny Mobile, Inc.

The adorable Verses Poetry Creator is quite different than Poem Flow and POETRY, in that it’s for creating your own poetry rather than reading someone else’s.  Compatible with iPhones and iPads, Verses riffs on magnetic poetry and creates a fun and unique interface for sparking creativity.  Adults will enjoy playing and writing with this app, but its quirky style also makes it perfect for teens.

Users can use the “Mix-tionary” to come up with a vocabulary pool for their poems, choosing from “Old School Words” and “New School Words.”  Other word groups are available (for $.99 or $1.99), including “Hip Hop Words”, “Beatnik Words”, and “LOL-tionary”.  While the lack of free groups is disappointing, there is certainly plenty of poetry potential when using just the free words.  After customizing their poem vocabulary, users create poems by moving words around magnetic poetry style, and  can share their finished poems using Facebook or email.

I see this app as a great inspiration tool and a way to challenge the brain. While having a designated vocabulary is limiting, it also turns writing poetry into something of a word game, making Verses fun for both personal and educational use.


Have you tried any of these poetry apps on your smartphone?  Have other favorites that I’ve missed?  Leave a comment or send a message our way — we’d love to hear your reviews! -Christina

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