Basically I feel like if you have an iPhone / iPad + $2, you should consider getting this app. If you've skimmed it online, you may think its usefulness of is limited to making poetry fun and accessible for the casual wordie. While it may do this, I also think more serious poets can use it to generate interesting first drafts on a quick and frequent basis.
I mention frequency. I think the poetic gaze is like a lens that you have to have open all the time. Like, you have to train yourself to see and feel poetry around you, to avoid writer's block. To keep the lens open, (at least I believe) you have to write. Some people are blessed with the ability to keep their poetic lens open no matter what minutia complicates their daily routine. Not me. When i was teaching I hardly made time to write.
Beyond the cliche that writing every day breeds discipline, and that it gets the crap out of your head to free your brain up for the generation of better stuff ----that hypothetical daily writing time was time FOR ME, and I was not giving it to myself. I did not realize it, but it was a sacrifice.
Not giving myself writing time, or giving it to myself in the summer and then regressing during the school year, made me HATE the slog through continual freshman comp / lit. I felt like my brain cells were sloughing off one by one. I blamed my job, but this can happen with any job, especially where what you do is focused almost entirely on service to others and not as much as the development of your own specific talent or passion.
The biggest excuse I gave myself was I DON'T HAVE TIME to write. To an extent this was true. My day was broken up into chunks of obligations to others. By the time I got home, my brain was so beaten down... and then after I rested for a minute I had to do more work.
However, I had a lot of little spans of time. Being on the bus. Eating lunch. Sitting in office hours waiting for one student to show up. Not long enough to grade papers, this time could have been used to write. But my poetic lens wasn't open. I carried a pen and notebook on me all the time, but hardly ever flipped the cover. I couldn't get into the headspace fast enough to get in, write, and get out in these short time spans.
Over years, this trampled my spirit and I'm just recently starting to get it back.
Enter the Instant Poetry app. The word Instant implies quickness. The way the app is designed can lead you to intuitive leaps and nimble generation of lines. It works like magnetic poetry --with the benefit of introducing random words into your brainspace where some of them might resonate.
However, with Instant Poetry you don't have to go through the hassle of looking through an entire refrigerator's worth of words to find the "and." You can add custom words easily using the keyboard, as well as rejiggering the ends of words to suit your needs.
If the small batch of random words it presents to you doesn't work at first glance, you can get a new batch simply by clicking the trash icon and then the green plus sign. [Note that these icons are not visible on the screenshots.] So the random words are there to give you a nudge, but you are not limited to them.
This app also explores in a minor way the playful aspect of visual poetry. You can change the color of words by tapping, as well as adjust their size by pinching. Using the Options menu, you can also change the font and the background, but I haven't experimented with this yet.
Also in the Options menu, you can save your poem or take a screen shot of your poem once its finished, or as finished as you can get it --again, the motivating concept for me is the generation of first drafts and points of departure. You can also email or post your poemlet to facebook if you're feeling extroverted.
How is this better than a pen & notebook? I spend a LOT of time on public transit. Writing in a notebook can be bumpy and hard to read. And if you get jostled you can drop your pen. Using Instant Poetry on my phone, I can pretty much manipulate all the controls with one hand, except for the pinch feature. I can use it on the bus without drawing attention to myself. For some reason on my usual bus routes, people are very nosy and think it's their prerogative to lean in over your shoulder and ask what you're working on. I would not pull out a laptop and pound away on it merrily. The convenience of a phone cannot be overstated. Everyone has their phone out. You don't look different. But lo, you are writing poems! Given any of those little spans of time, I can whip it out, work on it, and put it back. And the colors / size change / font change make it feel playful, like you're fooling around with magazine cut-ups.
I do have some grievances: some of the features don't work. For example, you are supposed to easily be able to add an s to a word, or to trash a single word, by dragging. But at least on my phone, the s sits next to the word without attaching. The word sits on top of the trashcan without going in.
What I'd like to see for this app in the future: fixing the broken parts, an even larger vocabulary (though I hear they've recently upgraded it to where it is now). And, at least for the phone, a vertically scrolling workspace. Right now the length of your poem is limited to your screen size.
This app, at least for me, is worth the $2. It allows for quick, playful, and customized composition that can be done covertly and on the fly. And, importantly, it gives your brain a creative jolt if you should get stuck. If your phone is forever in your hand or you are always looking up something on your iPad, this app might be for you.