Poetry Show stats round up: October 2015

Have you ever wondered how a start-up project gains traction, or what social media platforms help grow a community? Well, I have started a project that I am hoping to grow and will be tracking the effectiveness of my efforts as I go. I will also report on them monthly here. If you do not know about the show and are interested in it, visit the Poetry Show on YouTube.

If there are particular analytics you are interested in that I haven’t discussed, leave me a comment below, or reach out on Twitter (@PoetryShow) and I’ll include further analysis that is of interest.

October stats at a glance

Uploads: 11
Views: 671
Subs: 21
Revenue: $1

At the beginning of the re-launch the channel was sitting at 21377 views, and now it’s on 22048 (671 growth). 226 of these views came from the newly uploaded videos, and 445 of the views came from the older videos (349 of those were my 7 year old rambling analysis of The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock). I’ve also gone from 170 subscribers to 191 subs (21 growth). The interesting thing about the subs is that the bulk of them came from when the channel was active 7 years ago. Most of the old subscribers have long since lost interest, so really it was like starting from 0. I don’t pop up in the subs feed of 191 people, it’s more like 20. Each upload seems to get a handful of views within a few days and then slows(!) to a very tiny proportion of organic discovery. A small amount of interest has come from my other YouTube channel.

Most of the YouTube search traffic comes from (unsurprisingly) searches for commmentary on Prufrock, although searches relating to becoming a better poet are starting to come my way, which is where I am currently focusing my energies. I’m glad to see that it is paying off slowly there.



I upload one ‘how to’ video per week. These are usually filmed during the week and scheduled to publish 8am Saturday mornings. In a couple of months I might rethink the timing of this (given that the bulk of my views come from the USA, fitting in with their timezones will likely make more sense). I have also tried to release one commentary video per week as well, but do not have a set schedule for these. I have collaborated with one other small YouTube channel so I might keep that up too (there are a small number of YouTubers that look promising for future collaborations). I have also included thumbnails, endcards, annotations and links to improve subscription rates – not sure how well that is working yet.

YouTube engagement

Engage proactively and authentically with other YouTubers, videos and channels. I am wary of people that just use social media to spruik their own wares, so my rule for engagement on YouTube is to only offer comments on videos if I have a comment I feel is worth sharing and to never say ‘Check out my videos’ – My YouTube username is pretty obviously geared towards giving people an idea of what to expect if they choose to click on my avatar, so outright begging for attention in other ways is a little unseemly. I also comment on the channels of all new subscribers, just to reach out and show that I am open to conversation. This has not been particularly fruitful yet.

Social media: Twitter

Engage with other social media platforms. I decided that I would focus my energies on expanding my social media presence for the channel with one new platform per month. My second rule for social media was to engage authentically and organically, but allow for a little spruiking as well. The platform for October was Twitter. I have been an active Twitter user for years, so it was the most natural fit, and the native iPhone app makes it easy to switch between accounts so I can juggle my online personae. I don’t approve of the practice of following 1000 people to get 500 instant followers, so I’ve tried to limit myself to a few follows a day, and only follow people I think I would like to see in my feed. I don’t feel bad if people choose not to follow me either. So far I have gained 43 followers and that seems to have driven a tiny portion of traffic to YouTube. Tweetwise, I probably split my activity into roughly equal thirds of self promotion, engaging with something someone else said, and sharing snippets of interesting poetry news / content. Hopefully the balance is about right there – but I’ll re-assess in a couple of months.

The next platform I will use will be Periscope. I have dabbled a little as a viewer, but am yet to broadcast. I haven’t decided on the best way to ‘scope authentically for the Poetry Show yet. There is one scoper that does something a little similar to my show already, but I don’t like how the live stuff translates to YouTube, so I doubt I’ll just start using scopes to record the show and then post to YouTube. I’ll be guided a little by the live audience I think. I intend to just do one or two next week and then I’ll see how it fits in with the workflow for the rest of the real production of the show.

I have stayed away from sharing the Poetry Show on Facebook or creating a FB page for it. My thinking behind this so far is that FB really is a place where people connect with you because they are your friend and they trust you, without necessarily wanting to support every artistic or business endeavour you embark upon. I have friends that spruik their own stuff far too much, so I want to avoid that until the Poetry Show can support itself. I will eventually let my friends know about it in a ‘look at this cool thing I’m doing’ kind of way. I don’t want to do the whole ‘If you love me you will like all my videos’ thing. Once there is a bit more of a following (i.e. hundreds of regular viewers) I’ll set up a FB page to help foster a community. That will likely be 6 months to a year away though.

I’ve engaged a little with Spoken and CrowdCaster, but not particularly intentionally yet.


Next month I will report on the general growth of the channel, impact of Twitter and discuss the Periscope avenue in more detail.

If you have any questions or tips for me, leave them in the comments below.

Poetry Show stats round up: October 2015

Stemming the demise of poetry in schools

I am trying to rescue poetry on YouTube!

As part of my re-training to remain an English teacher in Australia, I have obviously had a lot to do with other pre-service teachers. While they all obviously have a range of strengths and weaknesses as beginning teachers, the one thing that struck me the most about the English teachers is the large number that are intimidated by, and flat out dislike, poetry. It’s not everyone, and I accept that not everyone that wants to teach English necessarily should want to do so because of poetry. However, the proportion of ‘haters’ (as the kids say these days – I’m reliably informed) is, well, disproportionate.

What is in vogue in education goes in cycles, and curriculum and policy are both skittish beasts that tend to change direction with little reason. It’s no surprise, given the neo-liberal influence in education these days, that something so trivial (i.e. good for the soul, but not for the bottom line of the nation’s economy) should be given less of a focus in our curricula. It is therefore completely understandable that today’s young graduate English teachers have less of a grounding in poetry.

But I think it is a travesty. I love poetry. It is the reason I became an English teacher, and if I could only teach the appreciation of poetry for the rest of my life, not only would I really enjoy it, but I can GUARANTEE that I could produce better citizens for the future.

In order to combat the demise of poetry, I’ve relaunched an old YouTube thing I used to do, called the Poetry Show. It is made up of two parts. The first is a weekly episode teaching people how to write better poetry. I have about a year’s worth of material already planned and it is very thorough. The second part is a collection of accessible and short analyses of commonly taught, and not so common but incredibly teachable, poems. My hopes for this enterprise is to create more capable poets, and in turn more capable readers of poetry. I also want to create a bank of (excellent!) resources for more poetry shy teachers to rely on.

The first video in the ‘How to become a better poet’ series can be found here:

If you know any English teachers that may be apprehensive about the teaching of poetry, I would love for you to share this channel, the Poetry Show, with them. And if there are particular poems you’d like me to analyse, drop me a note in the comments here or on one of the videos.

Stemming the demise of poetry in schools

Getting my willy out in public

Hear this at Spoken.

Getting my willy out in public

Sharing your poetry is not unlike
Getting your willy out in public.
The reaction it garners is much the same,
couched in politeness or unrelenting disgust.
Loved ones might find something encouraging
to say, while strangers have permission to pass
unflattering review. That’s too long. It left me
unsatisfied. What’s the purpose of that weird
bit at the end? I don’t know.
These weird bits might not have any purpose,
except to stand before you, exposed
accepting that mine is different to yours
but what we have in common, we humans,
is flaws.

Getting my willy out in public


Another poem you can hear at Spoken. I originally wrote this in 2007, and to be honest, I was never that keen on it. However, the subject matter suited what I wanted to try and do on the recording, which was to use an Audionautix track as a music bed for the piece.


I walk in semi-circles, clockwise
Until the link of an arm changes
My trajectory, counter-clockwise
Until the link of an arm changes
My trajectory. Walking in this way
Will eventually see us linking arms:

Our looped steps, our brief tango,
Our waltz in opposite directions
Will be brief. Will we acknowledge
One another, remember we were
Supposed to link, or will we think
This is just another incomplete

               We step in unison
In opposite directions, we move,
We look into each others eyes
And we realise that together we
Have indeed completed a circle
With this fox-trot, this pirouette
With this, our only revolution.

Until the link of an unwanted arm
Changes my trajectory once more
My arm, my eyes, my semi-circles
Will meet others, the dance carries
Me away and every other circle
Can never seem so complete.

Semicircles cover art


Rescue Poem

Hear this at Spoken. I have been enjoying trying out Spoken.co and am finding that it really fuels my wanting to write.

Rescue Poem

The wounded poem was found crawling
into that dark space between the oak
and the alleyway. With barely enough strength
to fight off the advancing pack of smutty
Limericks that rule this part of town,
it tried to utter some plosive alliteration –
“Be bold! They can but bury beauty!”
– but the consonants died unformed
on its fish-out-of-water lips.
Had it not been for the earnest youth
that took it home swaddled in damp
similes, the poem may not have survived the night.
She listened closely to the heartbeat,
that was a mess of anapests and weak spondees,
with the care of a watchmaker, resisting
the urge to turn feeble ticks into driving tickity-tocks,
to let the lines linger a little longer, and in the dawn
it managed to keep down an original metaphor,
growing stronger, it started to look less like a ditty
scrawled on a bathroom wall, and with renewed dignity
began to stand for something, and could sound
its own clarion call, to take a drastic measure,
to write something – anything at all –
between the next line break and the caesura
urging other earnest youths to rescue those that fall.

Rescue Poem

Ted Hughes’ ‘The Jaguar’, as re-imagined by a male feminist, in the style of Scroobius Pip

A little break from education-related posting. I have been teaching a lovely class of year 7 girls about poetry while on placement, and revisited an old favourite of mine with them: The Jaguar, by Ted Hughes. I’ve also been listening to Scroobius Pip’s album Distraction Pieces and generally thinking a lot about feminism recently. Somehow, while waiting at the traffic lights this morning this started forming in my head, because thought-foxes don’t only strike on quiet, snowy evenings. Anyway – I have nothing else to do with it…so here it is (You can also hear it at Spoken):

Ted Hughes’ ‘The Jaguar’, as re-imagined by a male feminist, in the style of Scroobius Pip

The apes adore themselves and in the sun they think of breeding
While uncritically consuming, without question, fleas the media
Puts on them: keep on scratching; don’t start thinking; keep on shrieking —
While the alpha dogs keep lying to their minds that keep on sleeping

There are champions in digital high definition streams
Saving people, crushing evil, swinging heroes, screen to screen
Standing for the little man, the lovely little ladies cry,
Half our dreams are brought to life, the better half are raped or die

Iron John McClane is beating on his hollow, tinny chest
In a loin cloth in the forest chanting “Father Must Know Best!”
But the jaguar is stalking and has set her sights on prey
And will devour foil hat prophets who are standing in her way

Under her foot the world still turns, not by her power only
But because it must, and change will come, we just don’t want it slowly
The rising of the jaguar won’t mean the sinking of the Ark
Containing sons of other beasts, left cowering in the dark

The cage long busted open but we sit behind the bars
Idly spouting archetypes about them: Lovely Venus, Warlike Mars
Jaguar will not be bound by cosmic nonsense or be told
That half the world’s not owed to her: it’s not for others to withhold.

Ted Hughes’ ‘The Jaguar’, as re-imagined by a male feminist, in the style of Scroobius Pip

Under Exam Conditions

I read the final comments from the front page of the exam, wished them luck and the reading time silence began.

The papers all turn over at the same time and sound like a flock of startled pigeons scattering themselves at the prompting of the proximity of an unexpected predator.

They do not speak, but communicate in sniffles that say ‘we are all in this together’ and ‘I know how you feel’, with the occasional blowing of one’s nose to suggest that one might have it harder than the rest.

And when the reading time is up, an applause of clicking pens signals the end of the prologue and the beginning of the show. A particularly nervous student absentmindedly taps out a distress signal in Morse code as he writes out his essay plan.

The zipper on a pencil case lets out a cry and it purges its contents noisily onto the desk. In the other corner a pen is thrown down in exchange for a luckier one while a dictionary ruffles its pages like a hen her feathers when she is trying to find a synonym for vixen.

And above it all, the relentless drone of the air conditioning ensures that, under exam conditions, this is the noisiest room in the school.

Under Exam Conditions