It is a winner and it's free, and having discovered it thanks to some retweet of a retweet I had to share it with those with an iPad, and with sincere apologies to those who are without.
The website offers this description of Josephine Hart's unique contribution to live poetry reading, and though it hasn't been updated since her death it gives a good idea of the treasures concealed within this app..
Since January 2004, Josephine Hart has been hosting The Josephine Hart Poetry Hour at monthly readings at the British Library in London. Ralph Fiennes, Brian Cox, Roger Moore, Edward Fox, Eileen Aitkens, Grey Gowrie, Dominic West, Tom Hollander, Edna O’Brien, Harold Pinter, Harriet Walter, Bob Geldof, Juliet Stephenson and Elizabeth McGovern have read the work of the great poets to spell-bound audiences. Josephine Hart devotes each evening to one or two poets, introducing and setting their poems in the context of their life. `The idea is simple’, she says ` An understanding of the life and philosophy of the poet illuminates the poetry and therefore makes the experience of reading or listening to each poem more intense.’ The readings by some of our finest actors then ignite the poems. They have become a ‘hot ticket’ in London and plans are afoot for taking the poetry overseas.
I have to add Dan Stevens to that list..many of you will know him from Downton Abbey. You know the one who was paralysed from the waist down after being gunned down in the trenches, and then by a miracle was transferred to Hospital Downton to convalesce. Then Mary ministered to him and lo he felt a-tingling in his ...I'll stop there because I really don't want to spoil it if you haven't seen the series, and I'm sure you won't be able to guess a thing from that.
Right back to Dan Stevens...
No actually hang on... I have to digress further, to the North Atlantic.
Is anyone watching Drownton??
Drownton is the popular name for the Julian Fellowes (of Downton fame) re- telling of the Titanic story and it's all a bit odd. Before we knew it the ship was holed in Episode One, the lifeboats were filling fast and we just couldn't see how the ship was going to stay afloat for three more episodes. In fact the trailer suggests it might be un-iceberged next week and a new load of passengers will come on board, so we are going to give it another chance, but things will need to improve if our boat is to be floated (sorry couldn't resist) sufficiently to see us clinging on for Episode Three.
So where was I...oh yes the tingling of Dan Stevens and the app.
Right, so filmed readings of great actors reading great poems, that fire crackles nicely in the grate, you can spin the the globe on the floor and get a very satisfying whirring sound and Dan Stevens is winning for the voice so far.
Oh by the way, that reminds me, sorry, is anyone else watching The Voice on BBC 1 ??
We thought we'd give that a go too as Bookhound (who may kill me for this) is a closet Tom Jones fan after stumbling across a concert at Edinburgh Castle (as you do) en route to picking Offspringette up from university at Stirling one summer. He got swept up in a mosh of fans waving knickers and had a lovely time. We were pleasantly surprised by The Voice, yes I know it's all a bit sad but I heart the principle of judging on voice not looks, with the judges listening with their backs to the performers. You just know the gawky, nervous ones are going to have voices made in heaven and pull it off, so good enough Saturday night entertainment for an hour's relaxation.
Sorry, where was I Dan Stevens.
Right, now this man has the perfect poetry voice.
Is it the tone??
Is it the expression??
I'm not sure, but it's sort of normal. I switch off through affected poetry reading where there's all this lilting ethereal dreamy stuff going on. Just give me the poem, perfectly pitched and down-to-earth normal, and Dan Stevens's intonation and expression is exquisite. He is reading the War Poems and his rendition of Rupert Brooke's The Soldier gives renewed expression to the familiar words, and if you touch that skull on the mantlepiece (on the app...sorry if you were about to touch your screen there) up they all come.
Not to be missed...and FREE.