On the eve of National Poetry Day, an ambitious new digital platform has been launched that is promising to “revolutionise the writing, publishing and sharing of poetry on a global basis”.
The site, called Poetry Zoo, offers what its developers describe as a “creative Workspace” where people will be able to fire off an ode, elegy or couplet then share them via a “Poetry Window”.
© Courtesy Poetry Zoo
Adapting instantly to any device - tablet, desktop, laptop or smartphone - the new website is designed to give poets of all abilities the opportunity to compose and publish whenever or wherever the muse takes them, sharing their verses and rhymes via Twitter and other social media.
It is the brainchild of poet and journalist Gillian K Ferguson (Bloodaxe, Canongate) and media specialist Richard Saville-Smith, and has been developed with Digital Innovation funding from Creative Scotland (the national arts body of Scotland) and Scottish Enterprise, as well as private funding.
Saville-Smith says new digital technologies offer fantastic opportunities to “completely revolutionise and re-energise the world of poetry”. He says that out of the 150,000 books published each year in the UK, only 100 books of poetry are published by the five main poetry publishers.
“No matter the personal dedication of poetry publishers and editors, it's now almost impossible for the new generations of poets to get published in the conventional sense," he adds.
“A tiny elite of male editors dominates. There's a total lack of resources. And it's even tougher for women. In desperation, many thousands spend considerable cash entering poetry competitions in the miniscule hope of being spotted.”
Describing the poetry industry as "moribund" he says PoetryZoo “empowers stifled writers and gives them a much-needed chance to be seen and read."
"PoetryZoo is like YouTube to video, Wordpress to blogging, Flickr to photos," he suggests.
Whether Poetry Zoo achieves the global dominance of the brands Saville-Smith namechecks remains to be seen. But the site, which has been in a Beta phase since September, has attracted a small but dedicated band of followers and poets who have begun submitting and sharing everything from song lyrics to haikus.
- Explore the site at poetryzoo.com.
- Find out more about National Poetry Day.
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