After creating the British Poetry skill to help me memorize Rudyard Kipling's famous poem, If, I became enraptured with the beauty and tradition of British poetry. Building a repository of British bards and their poems for the app gave me the desire to reflect that wealth and beauty in another app. At the same time Amazon's Echo platform was quickly evolving to become the perfect medium to put this treasure on display. With the advent of Echo devices with screens, I would now be able to bring poetry to life visually. All that was left was to make engaging the poetry interesting and fun. So, the Poet Challenge game was born.

What it does

Whoever said poetry was just for lovers or intellectuals? Poetry can be fun! Ask Lady Alexa to play the Poet Challenge game! Test your knowledge of British poetry while feasting on centuries of wisdom and beauty.

How I built it

I used the Alexa SDK, Lambda, Node.js, DynamoDB and a LEMP backend powered by an EC2 server. I took full advantage of the new display capabilities available in the Alexa SDK by using the Alexa Presentation Language (APL).

Challenges I ran into

Besides the challenges in creating a robust search mechanism and natural speech patterns for poetry recitation, I had to learn and implement the conventions and syntax of the new Alexa Presentation Language (APL). The learning curve was not steep, however, since it is based on current web innovations like Flexbox.

Coding the game required a lot of beta testing in order to make it fun and engaging as well as visually pleasing.

Accomplishments that I'm proud of

Poet Challenge is engaging and really fun to play. Even though I've become very familiar with the collection of poems and poets, playing the Poet Challenge game is a great way for me to keep learning while having fun.

What I learned

Making the app has had a profound impact on me personally as a whole world of meaning and beauty has opened up to me. My coding skills improved as I was forced to make the codebase efficient and lean. Programing for the screen definitely made me upgrade my skills for creating beautiful user interfaces. Lastly, learning the dynamics of what makes a game interesting was very satisfying.

What's next for Poet Challenge

Poet Challenge will soon be offering premium content, including poems of modern poets whose work is not available in the public domain.

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