Gabriela Marie Milton’s “Passions: Love Poems and Other Writings” will be published soon by Vita Brevis Press. To read more about this, please go to, https://shortprose.blog/2020/03/18/my-poetry-book-passions-love-poems-and-other-writings-coming-soon-at-vita-brevis-press/.
Today (11 March), the UK Chancellor announced in the Budget that from December 2020 Value Added Tax (VAT) would be scrapped on e-books and online newspapers. Currently (in the UK) print books are zero rated, whilst e-books attract a VAT rate of 20percent. So, from December of this year, print and electronic books will both be zero rated.
At this juncture it is not clear whether audio books will also be zero rated. The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has asked for clarification on this point.
To read more about the zero rating of e-books please visit this link, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51832899.
Gabriela M, a writer whose work I admire, has been awarded Author of the Year 2019 by Spillwords Press. You can read Gabriela’s interview here, https://spillwords.com/author-of-the-year-2019-interview/.
Yesterday evening, I fell into a very enjoyable conversation with a lady, during the course of which I mentioned that I compose poetry. She was kind enough to express an interest in my work, consequently I provided her with my business card, which contains my website’s address.
On being asked by the lady where she should start, I mentioned my poem “My Old Clock I Wind”. Having done so, I fell to considering how easy and/or difficult it would be for someone accessing my website to find a particular poem.
my blog, kmorrispoet.com, does have a search facility and, on returning home I searched for “My Old Clock I Wind” and reblogged the poem in order to make it easier for my acquaintance to read it.
My search took some 10-20 seconds (well it seemed to do so, although I wasn’t counting)! This incident did, however cause me to consider the limitations of blogging as a means of promoting my work.
In this age of social media, smartphones and other high tech devices enabling people to access information online it is, in my view essential to have a presence on the internet. Having a website/blog enables you to reach readers who would (in the absence of your blog/website) be unaware of your existence, let alone the fact that you write poetry, short stories etc. Having an online presence also allows you to easily share links to your published works (if any) with your online readership.
However, many blogs (including my own) have a very high number of posts, which means that (even with a search facility) its often difficult to find a given article, poem, short story etc. Of course one can (and should) use both tags and categories to enable your readership to find what they are seeking as easily as is possible. One can also create pages (for example a page on a book you have written, or one containing links to reviews of your books). However, having done all this, a blog still has its limitations.
The blogging community is a place full (on the whole) of friendly and helpful people. However, for those who do not blog, accessing a WordPress (or other blogging site) can be bewildering. Indeed I have found that a number of people who have become acquainted with my work through having met me face-to-face (and who have expressed pleasure on reading it), rarely (sometimes never) access blogs. They feel more comfortable with a paperback or an ebook and lack any significant desire to engage online either by reading, commenting or liking blog posts.
I know of people who have visited my blog (they have told me that they have done so and enjoyed reading my work), yet many of these have not followed my site. I (as with many other bloggers) do have a facility to subscribe by email as well as via the WordPress reader. The email facility is particularly good for those who do not have a WordPress site and/or Gravatar. However few people (at least in the case of my own site) subscribe by email, meaning that the overwhelming majority of my (online) readership is composed of fellow WordPress users.
As mentioned earlier in this post, the WordPress community is a helpful and friendly place. However, if one wishes to promote one’s work its extremely important to use a variety of means (not just blogging) Such other means include readings, chatting to interested strangers, and (if you can aford to do so) giving away the odd copy of your books.
As always, I would be interested to hear the views of my readers.
I recently shared a link to my “selected Poems” with a colleague, and was delighted to receive the below review from her by email:
“Wow I’ve managed to read a through and I love your poetry.
Very eloquent and soft”.
For “The Selected Poems of K Morris” please follow this link, https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WW8WXPP/.
An interesting article in The Times, which is, on the whole not very complimentary about Instapoets (I.E. those poets who post on Instagram), https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/why-instagram-means-poetry-is-going-from-bad-to-verse-d25rc9h3s.
The article ends with a list of the 10 leading poets on Instagram.
I do (occasionally) post some of my poetry on Instagram and you can find my page here, https://www.instagram.com/kmorrispoet/.
(Please note, The Times is protected by a paywall, which means that you can only read articles if you have a subscription to the newspaper. You can, however register free of charge for 1 month and access content, however after this period your card and/or bank account will be debited, unless you cancel within the period specified on The Time’s website).
Below you will find my reviews of Poem A Day (both the web based version and the Alexa Skill), and a review of Poe Reader, an Alexa skill enabling the user of an Amazon Echo to listen to the poetry of Edgar Alan Poe.
I was pleased to come across Poem A Day from the Academy of American Poets. On it’s website the Academy describes Poem a Day as follows:
“Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 250 new, previously unpublished poems by today’s talented poets each year. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is distributed via email, web, and social media to 500,000+ readers free of charge. The series highlights classic poems on weekends, and weekday poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary and audio by the poets. The series’ weekdays are curated by twelve poets from across the country who have wide-ranging expertise and editorial perspectives. Poet Sherwin Bitsui serves as guest editor for November 2019”, (see https://poets.org/poem-a-day).
As the owner of an Amazon Echo, I thought that I would give the Alexa skill of the same name a try, particularly as the information on Amazon’s website indicates that the poems are voiced by the poets themselves, (see https://www.amazon.com/Academy-of-American-Poets-Poem-a-Day/dp/B07HRGCGH6). However, on asking Alexa to launch Poem A Day, a message is generated stating that the Echo is unable to launch the skill. Having tried to use the Poem A Day skill (without success) for several days, I am unable to recommend the Alexa version of this product. I can, however recommend the web based alternative, available on the Academy of American Poets website.
Being a fan of Edgar Alan Poe’s work, I also tried the Poe Reader, which is available as an Alexa skill from Amazon, (see https://www.amazon.com/worldengine-Edgar-Allan-Poe-Reader/dp/B077KJR5ZP). The Poe Reader enables the user of an Echo to request a random Poe poem or, alternatively a specific poem can be requested.
Whilst I was successful in being able to listen to several Poe poems, including A Dream Within a Dream, on attempting to enjoy The Raven Alexa stopped speaking only a few lines into the poem. This happened several times (and not just with The Raven), which indicates to me that there is a problem with Poe reader.
In conclusion, I would recommend the web based version of Poem A Day from the Academy of American Poets (but not the Alexa skill of the same name). As for Poe Reader, my readers may wish to try out this skill, however, from my experience it is likely to cease voicing mid sentence.
This review is of Poem Reader, an Alexa skill which can be accessed using the Amazon Echo.
Amazon’s website describes Poem Reader as:
“Poem Reader is a random collection of poems for the whole family. Enable the skill to ask for today’s poem or the daily rhyme. Alexa will say the poem, not sing it. This skill is meant to help teach you the words to some popular poems and rhymes.”
Having used Poem Reader, it is, in my view more of a vehicle for having nursery rhymes recited than a means of accessing poetry more generally. Each time I asked Poem Reader for a poem and/or rhyme, it produced a rhyme more suited to young children than the family as a whole.
Amongst the rhymes voiced by Alexa was Hickory Dickory Dock, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Little miss Muffet and Goosey Goosey Gander.
This skill does, perhaps possess the potential to amuse young children and those with an interest in nursery rhymes. However, from my use of Poem Reader, I believe that the description is somewhat misleading in that it implies a broad selection of rhymes/poems, when what is in fact included is largely (perhaps exclusively) a collection of nursery rhymes.
For anyone interested in checking out Poem Reader, it can be found here, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Poem-Reader-Poems-for-Everyone/dp/B01LFXD2LY/.
On 1 November, I reviewed The Bell of Amherst, an Alexa skill which enables the user of an Amazon Echo to listen to the poetry of Emily Dickinson, https://kmorrispoet.com/2019/11/01/the-bell-of-amherst-how-best-to-enjoy-the-poetry-of-emily-dickinson/. As you will see from that review, I was disappointed with The Bell. Consequently I enabled Go Emily which, as with The Bell, allows users of the Echo to listen to Dickinson’s work, https://www.amazon.com/Appbly-com-Go-Emily/dp/B01LX3SF9I.
There is, so far as I can ascertain from having used both Go Emily and The Bell of Amherst, no difference between the 2 skills, Indeed, if I where a smoker (which I am not), I would say that one could not put a cigarette paper between them! As with The Bell, Go Emily uses Alexa’s voice to recite Dickinson’s poetry. In addition, both skills close immediately after a single poem has been read, there being no facility for the user to request that a further poem is recited.
Both Go Emily and The Bell of Amherst could be improved by allowing the user to request that a further poem be read, or to ask that a named poem of Dickinson’s be recited.
As with The Bell of Amherst, I am not a huge fan of the Go Emily skill, and, in my view, anyone wishing to enjoy the poetry of Emily Dickinson would be better served by reading one of the collections out there.
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.