3 for Free

From the September/October 2011 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

1. The Poetry Foundation’s free POETRY app promises to turn your iPhone into a portable library of verse. A shake of your device reveals a random collection of poems, catalogued under intersecting themes, with various emotions and sensations—Anger, Insecurity, Joy, Optimism, and Boredom, for example—paired with topics such as Life, Youth, Celebrations, Nature, Spirituality, and Arts and Sciences. Once you’ve hit on a theme, you can call up poems by literary luminaries such as Robert Creeley, Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, and Pablo Neruda, and contemporary writers including Rosmarie Waldrop, Kevin Young, and Matthew Zapruder, some featuring audio of poets reading their work. A tap of the star icon below each title adds a poem to your personal favorites list, and poems can be promoted via Twitter, Facebook, or e-mail with a tap of the Share button. 

2. Google’s online Art Project (www.googleartproject.com) could be a path to your ekphrastic muse, a research tool, or a place of respite during a text-heavy day—all on your computer screen. Using Google Street View technology, which patches together panoramic photos to simulate a seamless, three-dimensional image, the Art Project collaborated with seventeen major museums around the world to create virtual tours. A few clicks can take you to the galleries of far-flung institutions such as Tate Britain in London, Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the Palace of Versailles in France, and the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Frick Collection, and MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City. As you move about the rooms, clicking on the zoom icon next to select works reveals a high-resolution image of each piece; signing in to your Google account allows you to create collections of favorite works.

3. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the first e-book made accessible for free on the Internet—a slim volume, the Declaration of Independence—created in July 1971 by Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg (www.gutenberg.org). Today Project Gutenberg offers more than thirty-six thousand titles in sixty languages, in formats compatible with Kindle, iPad, iPhone, and Android devices, as well as in an HTML format readable on your web browser—and all at no charge. From works by Louisa May Alcott to Émile Zola, Ezra Pound to Gertrude Stein, the Gutenberg website houses a massive repository of public-domain texts and audio recordings. And if you’re looking to give, in addition to receiving, the completely volunteer-run operation is always seeking literary types to assist in adding new titles to the catalogue as proofreaders or as readers for audiobook recordings.