New Life for Old iPad: Instagram Poetry Machine

This year, I retired my old 4th Generation iPad because it was getting pretty slow. I couldn’t do any serious work with it, and even reading the news or other recreational uses were painful. So I finally broke down and upgraded, but still felt bad to have a working electronic device without using it.

Then, I decided to get into Intagram poetry and faced two problems. 1) I didn’t want to clog up all the storage on my other devices with photos of poems, and 2) Instagram has ridiculous limits on the number of accounts you can have active on one device. I manage several instagram accounts for my job, so even though we post infrequently, I already have more than the allowed number for any one device. Adding another one seems silly, and I’m cheap, so I don’t want to rely on a third-party solution I have to pay for.

I could just log out of one infrequently used account on one device and use it for my new poetry account, but that would mean a lot of switching back and forth at some point, which is a pain. Instead, I chose to use the old iPad, which has a perfectly servicable camera and has enough storage now that I’ve deleted a bunch of apps that I won’t use anymore. The stripped-down iPad 4th Gen now works reasonably quickly and will take pictures of published poems from the contributors copies that I’ve kept over the years or of poems from my books that never appeared in magazines. I can photograph several in one sitting, and then post them periodically using the Instagram app on that device.

I’ve also learned how to take screen shots of electronic versions of poems, then open that in a photo editor on my computer (Photos works well enough on a Mac) to crop as needed and export to .jpg format. Then I can use AirDrop to send the image to my device (I’ve been using my iPhone to do this with Poetry South because we’re running a series of poems that I wanted to cross-post to Instagram). That ought to work just as well with the old iPad.

Using the iPad for Instagram works best for poetry because I’m not actually taking pictures out in the real world—I’m not a big fan of iPad photography, since you have to hold up the big old iPad to shoot. I did have to do a little juggling act to hold a magazine and my iPad to take a picture of a page, but once I find my old book easel (which I used to use for transcribing poems that I wanted to translate), then I can set up the open book in a well-lighted area and use two hands to take the picture with the iPad. And who knows, with a stripped-down iPad, I might even find I like using it to compose poetry, as long as I turn off auto-correct! That is, unless I plan to write Dada poetry; then auto-correct would help. In any case, it’s nice to have a use for the old iPad as long as it still works.

Published by Kendall Dunkelberg

I am a poet, translator, and professor of literature and creative writing at Mississippi University for Women, where I direct the Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing, the undergraduate concentration in creative writing, and the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium. I have published three books of poetry, Barrier Island Suite, Time Capsules, and Landscapes and Architectures, as well as a collection of translations of the Belgian poet Paul Snoek, Hercules, Richelieu, and Nostradamus. I live in Columbus with my wife, Kim Whitehead; son, Aidan; and dog, Aleida.

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