Rhyme meets reason in poetry app inspired by late Irish writer
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH may not have had it in mind when he strolled among daffodils, but poetry lovers may now “wander lonely as a cloud” in the world of apps, downloading poems to read aloud as they go.
Poetry is taking to the world of iTunes, thanks to inspiration from the late Mullingar-born author, publisher and patron Josephine Hart, and the co-operation of leading artists and musicians including Bob Geldof, Roger Moore and Dominic West.
In her school days, Hart, who died in June 2011, was encouraged by the nuns in Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, to recite poetry at the Feis Ceoil.
Before her peaceful death after a battle with cancer, Hart had laid the foundations and more for The Poetry App, launched in London last night and already becoming an iTunes sensation.
In a video message prepared before she died, Hart, who wrote the hugely successful novel, Damage, which was later turned into a successful film, said poetry was “the highest form of language”.
The app, which is available to download free for iPhones, iPads and Androids, includes 115 poems read by actors such as Jeremy Irons, Sinéad Cusack, Dominic West and Felicity Kendal.
Sixteen poets were chosen: Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Robert Frost, Robert Lowell, John Milton, Christina Rossetti, Percy Bysshe Shelley, WH Auden, Emily Dickinson, TS Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, Philip Larkin, Marianne Moore, Sylvia Plath and WB Yeats. More will be added.
The app, created by a Saatchi company, MC Saatchi, has been funded by the Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation, which was established “to further access to poetry and provide funding and grants to education”.
At last night’s West End launch of the app, Hart’s husband, Maurice Saatchi, said his late wife’s ambition had been to take great poetry to a new generation “via the marvellous storytelling of actors who breathe a new spirit into words which on the page may appear daunting.
“The Poetry App is intended to be the most advanced poetry application on the internet – a universe of inspiring, thought- provoking and entertaining poetry to explore.”
Poetry lovers can read the text, or watch, or listen to it being read by the actors involved. “Because she wanted people of all ages to be able to use this, it was very important that the text size could be increased,” said one of the app’s designers, Kat Polley.
Listen at irishtimes.com