IF POEMS: Poetry away from blackboards

By Garbiñe Jaurrieta. May 10, 2012

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Exceptions aside, the educational system has always failed to encourage sensitivity and love for poetry. Yes, at school we learn to memorise Wordsworth, Poe, Shakespeare’s “summer’s day” and even some passages by Walt Whitman. But, in the end, blackboards and textbooks have always failed to get a children’s audience interested in the verse.

A few months ago, aware that this wrong approach damaged one of the basic mainstays of its literature, the British Allie Esiri and Rachel Kelly created an app for iPad that aims to end with these serious lyrical deficiencies. We are talking about iF Poems, an interactive product that combines poems from the most brilliant English-language poets in history. The app, divided in categories and periods, is in principle intended for children and teenagers. In fact, it has an audio option in which British actors such as Tom Hiddleston (Midnight in Paris) or Tim Burton’s muse, Helena Bonham Carter –who, by the way, also recites some of his verses– lend their voices to Byron, Lewis Carroll or Edward Lear. As its creators explain, iF Poems may be adapted for the little ones, but such a delicate selection of poems cannot be classified for a specific audience.

From a metaphysic perspective Shakespeare considers the meaning of life (All the world´s a stage), A.E. Housman talks about its end (Here dead we lie) and Whitman extols the emerging nationalism of the 19th century (I hear America Singing). Poetry that deals with an adult reality while acting as an educational guide through fables and humour in verse.

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