Posted 3 May 2014

in Featured

Walt Whitman on his smartphone! Robert Burns using his iPad! Musings on how past generations of famous poets might have valued and used the new digital tech – and PoetryZoo!

Famous Poets use contemporary technology

Coleridge, Robert Burns, Emily Dickinson and Walt Whtiman feeling comfortable with new technology


Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772-1834

Protecting identity for experimentation – In 1798 Coleridge and William Wordsworth combined forces in the ‘Lyrical Ballads’ which was published anonymously to test the experimental nature of the work. In PoetryZoo you can publish anonymously using a ‘zoodonym’ – (then still ‘adopt’ your own work later). Experimentation is welcome. And, from the reverse perspective, putting your poetry online in an organised, dated way is the best way of protecting against plagiarism – scandals are currently rocking Australia and the UK.

Robert Burns 1759-1796

Making poetry and song – Robert Burns had a keen sense of the interrelation of poetry and songs. As well as poetry, PoetryZoo is for song lyrics – including sound and video files. Burns, a global poet who wrote some of the best known and enduring songs ever, died with 200 songs unpublished – if he’d only had PoetryZoo!

Emily Dickinson 1830-1886

Confounding convention and connecting – Emily Dickinson wrote nearly 1800 poems but only eleven were ever published in her lifetime. Her work was unconventional and the poems were significantly altered to ‘fit’ convention, as was her first posthumous collection. It took until 1955 for what she actually wrote to be published. PoetryZoo empowers the writer. It dissolves barriers to getting work out there, allows talent not just to breathe but to fly. But work can also be kept private. Eventually reluctant to leave her room, most of Dickinson’s friendships were through correspondence. PoetryZoo Members can connect with each other from anywhere, all over the planet.

Walt Whitman 1819-1892

The continual edit – when is a poem finished? Walt Whitman spent 35-40 years restlessly revising ‘Leaves of Grass’ before declaring the deathbed edition of 1892 to be complete. How much easier would this process be in the digital age? PoetryZoo allows poems to be written, edited and updated (with a chain of multiple drafts) on any device, anywhere. And if like Walt you change your mind, you can even ‘unpublish’ a poem!

If our pictures makes you smile, you can download copies. There are high and low resolution images available – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Burns, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman and altogether at dropbox.

High resolution:

Low resolution:

Do let us know any ideas you have about how past generations of poets might have enjoyed the digital era…

by The PoetryZoo Keeper