Tag Archives: my poems alexa skill

My review of the British Poetry Alexa skill

Being the owner of an Amazon Echo and a lover of poetry, I recently enabled the Alexa skill of the same name, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adam-Krell-British-Poetry/dp/B07B269592.

The British Poetry Alexa skill enables the user of an Echo to ask that a poem is read. There is also the opportunity to play a game to test your knowledge of British poetry.

Turning first to the read a poem feature, I found this rather hit and miss. For example on asking for a poem by the famous composer of humorous verse, Edward Lear, a poem by Sir Thomas Wyatt was voiced by Alexa. Just how Edward Lear can be equated with Sir Thomas Wyatt astounds me! I had more luck when requesting that a poem by Shakespeare, Wordsworth or William Blake be read. Had British Poetry not found the latter poets I would have disabled the British Poetry skill.

I previously favourably reviewed the My Poems Alexa skill, https://kmorrispoet.com/2019/10/31/my-review-of-my-poems-an-alexa-skill-enabling-the-amazon-echo-user-to-listen-to-poetry/. In that review I commend the fact that the poetry in My Poems is voiced by human actors. Unfortunately this is not the case with the British Poetry Alexa skill.

As regards the facility enabling the user of British Poetry to play a game, I enjoyed using this aspect of the app. The player is read the first few lines of a poem and then asked to say who the poet in question is. There are 3 options to choose from and I must confess to having crossed my fingers on several occasions and made a wild guess as to who the poet in question was!

Whilst (as mentioned above), the facility enabling the user to request that a particular poem is read is rather hit and miss, I did enjoy the game aspect of the British Poetry Alexa skill, and I shall return to play another day. However the My Poems app is, I believe of much more value to the lover of poetry.

Kevin

The Bell of Amherst – how best to enjoy the poetry of Emily Dickinson

I have long been an admirer of Emily Dickinson’s work, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Dickinson. My first recollection of having encountered her poetry was as a child whilst listening to Poetry Please! on BBC Radio 4. I remember being fascinated by a rendering of Dickinson’s fine poem “As I could not stop for death he kindly stopped for me”, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47652/because-i-could-not-stop-for-death-479.

I frequently return to Emily’s work, and the bookcase in my bedroom contains 2 substancial braille volumes of her poetry. Given the pleasure I derive from her poetry, I was pleased to find that Amazon offers a free Alexa skill enabling owners of the Amazon Echo to listen to the poetry of Emily Dickinson, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Norton-The-Belle-Amherst/dp/B06XNM6GR9, and being an Echo owner I enabled The Bell of Amherst yesterday evening.

On opening The Bell of Amherst, the Echo user is asked whether they would like “The Bell” to read a poem. On answering “yes, a poem is voiced by Alexa and the app closes. If you wish to hear another poem its necessary to open The Bell again and request that Alexa read another Dickinson poem.

Whilst The Bell of Amherst provides those with access to an Amazon Echo with the opportunity to listen to the poetry of Emily Dickinson, I find the robotic voice of Alexa distracting and would prefer that the poems are read by actors of the human kind, as is the case with the My Poems Alexa skill, which I reviewed on 31 October, https://kmorrispoet.com/2019/10/31/my-review-of-my-poems-an-alexa-skill-enabling-the-amazon-echo-user-to-listen-to-poetry/.

The fact that one has to re-open The Bell each time one wishes to hear a poem is also irritating. Again I would prefer that the Bell followed the same practice as My Poems whereby the user is given the opportunity to hear another poem, rather than the app shutting down on him/her once a single poem has been read.

In brief, I wouldn’t recommend The Bell of Amherst as a means of enjoying the verse of Emily Dickinson. I would suggest obtaining one of the many printed collections of her poetry as an alternative to The Bell of Amherst.

As an aside, I was delighted when, in response to a recent review of my Selected Poems, a reader of that review commented as follows:
“His poem about the grim reaper reminds me of Emily Dickinson’s “because I could not stop for death He kindly stopped for me.” Thanks for letting his read some of his poems.”
The poem to which the commenter refers is my poem entitled “Time”. You can find the review of The Selected Poems of K Morris (together with the above quoted comment) here, https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/bookreview-poetry-the-selected-poems-of-k-morris/.

Kevin