Summary and Development

This mobile application for iOS and Android was the first major output of the PhD project. I developed it in consultation with Neil Astley, the Editor at Bloodaxe Books, the partner organisation on my research. With a forty-year publishing history, Bloodaxe have amassed a wealth of audio-visual material from readings and interviews with their poets. Our aim in developing the app was to find a way to utilise this material in introducing users to the work of Bloodaxe’s authors. The app presents some of this online-hosted content alongside the texts of the poems, while still allowing the user to read the written poems when offline. The intention here was to combine the multimedia capabilities of the mobile or tablet device with the offline reading abilities of an e-book reader, while also trying to minimise the amount of memory required to download and run the app.

The app was created using Apache Cordova, a software development framework that allows a programmer to use web technologies such as HTML and JavaScript, with which I am familiar, to create mobile applications. This approach allowed me to easily apply my existing skills to the project, which in turn meant that a working prototype could be produced relatively quickly. This then allowed for the app to serve as a starting point for further explorations in presenting poetry through the digital multimedia device.

Content

The live version of the app currently contains work by over forty poets, with scope for it to updated by the team at Bloodaxe via a simple web interface that was designed to accompany the app.

The app can be dowloaded here:

iOS download (Apple iOS App Store)
Android download (Google Play)

A non-functional demo version of the update interface can be viewed here:

Bloodaxe Poetry update interface

The image gallery below also shows some of the app’s features.

The source code for the mobile application and the server-side scripts for updating it can be found on GitHub:

Bloodaxe Poetry source code on Github 

A copy of this source code is also stored at the data.ncl research data repository at Newcastle University:

Bloodaxe Poetry source code on data.ncl [LINK TO BE ADDED]

Discussion

The development of this mobile app began a consideration of the intermedial priorities of digital poetry publication. The ability to present written text alongside audio and video recordings in the same interface was the main feature of the mobile device that we sought to exploit within the app. Poetry’s status as a literary form that is commonly distributed in writing and (here, recorded) performance invites the attempt to present these different medial forms together.

While the app is in most ways a very conventional mobile interface, it represents a first step in considering how the materiality of the print-codex paradigm interacts with the audio-visual technologies embedded in the device. Features such as the random opening lines displayed on the app’s front page, and the ability to hide the toolbar on the reading display, were informed by perceived positive aspects of printed-book-reading that we had not seen widely emulated in digital reading interfaces.

Later projects in the PhD were informed by this initial approach, as I explored other ways that the media-specific features of different instances of the same poetic work could be combined to generate new effects.

 

Related Portfolio Entries
  • Crossings
    Another mobile application created for accessing poetry.
  • Rhythm Tapper
    The first in a series of experiments with mixing poetry’s different medial features, sparked by the development of this app.
  • Weather-based interface
    An experimental poetry display designed as a potential extension to the Bloodaxe Poetry app.

 

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iOS download (App Store)

Android download (Google Play)

NOTE: Depending on when the submission is viewed, this app may or may not require a password. The password is the same as the one for accessing this portfolio, which can be found in the Portfolio Summary document.

 

This is a free mobile application for phones and tablets, currently in the late stages of development. With an almost forty-year publishing history, Bloodaxe Books have amassed a wealth of audio-visual material from readings and interviews with their poets. This mobile app aims to present some of this online-hosted content alongside the texts of the poems, while still allowing the reader to read the texts offline. The intention is to combine the multimedia capabilities of the mobile or tablet device with the offline reading abilities of an e-book reader in one application, while still trying to minimise the amount of memory required to run the app.

The front page of the app allows the reader to search the content of the app through a conventional search bar, or to browse using other methods by selecting the book icon. Methods by which a reader can browse content are: Poets, Poems, Videos, Audio, Categories, Themes, and Favourites. The front page also features a news panel, which takes the reader to the Bloodaxe website to view the latest news from the publisher. The bottom section of the front page screen is an animated text panel that displays random opening lines from poems featured on the app, allowing readers to read the full text of any poems that catch their attention.  (See image below.)

 

On the poem-reading screen (see image below), the reader can: read the text; listen to an audio recording of the poem, if available; use the tabs at the top to view a performance of the poem or read the poet’s biography; alter the size, color and layout of the text; share the poem on social media; tag the poem with themes that they identify in it; and add the poem to their Favourites list. The navigation menu at the top of the screen is collapsible, allowing the reader to have only the poem text displayed on the screen while reading. The button in the very top-right displays another random poem from the app when clicked, simulating the action of ‘flicking through’ a printed book.

The poem-reading screen showing ‘Cow’ by Selima Hill.

 

The app was created using Apache Cordova, a computer program that allows a programmer to use web technologies such at HTML and Javascript, with which I am familiar, to create mobile applications. Please see below for a sample of the code used to create the app.

Alternatively, this code can be downloaded as a PDF file here, but this lacks the coloured text highlighting of the code window above.