2021 Parlando Project Hits (and Misses)

Once again a variety of things we call life is keeping new material from being posted as part of this project. So, why not do what a lot of bloggers do this time of year and give a short rundown of 2021 traffic for this blog and the associated audio pieces? That might be interesting. What do people come here for?

In general, this blog traffic continues to grow, as it has every year so far. Over the five plus years we’ve been active, there’s been an expected yearly pattern sweep: rising in the fall and carrying over until spring, then dropping off in the summer. This might indicate that some of the traffic here is related to schoolwork assignments or interests lit around that, or that even in our always connected age, that more are outside reading the “book of nature” in the summer than inside curling up with a poetry-related blog by the glow of a crackling screen light. We had 43,621 views last year, modest by political or lifestyle blogging standards, but rewarding in the context of poetry event attendance.

To my personal disappointment, listens to the audio pieces are close to flat in contrast to increased blog readership. The continuing Covid-19 epidemic has put a damper on my ability to collaborate or even to work as extensively on the audio pieces in other ways, and over the past two years I sometimes fear that the quality and variety of the audio pieces could suffer from that. That fear aside, as “The place where music and words meet,” says, these pieces were the real spark that led to all this.

Here are the ten most viewed posts here during 2021. This is the 754th post here, and all of these posts are older posts made over the years since we launched in 2016. I made them hyperlinks in case you’re curious, as a few of them are quite old, and could be from before you started following Parlando.

1. Poem 1 from Twenty Love Poems

2. The Lake Isle of Innisfree

3. The Stare’s Nest at My Window

4. Edward Thomas’ October

5. Rimbaud’s Eternity

6. Hitch Your Wagon to a Star

7. The Red Wheelbarrow

8. The Aim Was Song

9 .“Hope” is the thing with feathers

10. The Pool

The popularity of the Pablo Neruda translation from Spanish I did in 2020 shouldn’t surprise me. Love and its ornery cousin lust are attractive subjects after all, and this early collection of Neruda’s is a poetry best-seller in its original language. I myself prefer the final poem in the series to the opener, but they are both part of the story told in the series. Posts on Yeats make two high-placed appearances. I suspect the posts on “The Red Wheelbarrow”  and “The Pool”  get hits from those looking for homework help on what to say about these enigmatic short poems that appear in many anthologies. The puzzler for me is Edward Thomas’ “October,”  which is a lovely poem by a poet better known in the British Isles than in America, but I can’t guess how that post got so popular. My post on Emily Dickinson’s well-loved “Hope’  is the thing with feathers “ may be attractively controversial. Many read that poem as motivational poster simple: praise for plucky hope. I took the idea that the “Hope” quoted in the title may refer to a lesser known poem by Emily Dickinson influence Emily Bronte that makes hope something of a taunting flirt.

None of these top ten for page hits this year was written and posted in 2021. Even though total blog traffic increases smartly year to year, most days I find older posts are among the most read — or at least loaded into readers browsers in hope of finding out something — proving the notion that poetry is news that stays news. The most hits for a 2021-written post was Rimbaud’s Dawn (#21), followed by William Carlos Williams’ Thursday (#26), and my memorial post for Lawrence Ferlinghetti (#36).

What was the least viewed 2021 post, other than very recent ones from the year? My post on the unusually gritty Joyce Kilmer poem “The Subway.”   What’s that mean? Joyce Kilmer may be past his sell-by date in the 21st century? Or maybe it was reflected pandemic fear of crowded mass transit?

Audio pieces? These new audio pieces posted in 2021 had the most listens:

1. The Negro Speaks of Rivers

2. The Snow is Deep On the Ground

3. The World is a Beautiful Place

4. Georgia Douglas Johnson’s Escape

5. Reynardine

Sure, I’m the composer and sole performer on 4 out of those 5 pieces, but not a bad grouping of Parlando music performances, even if none of them have more complex arrangements (harder to get done this year). Listening to them again reduced my fears about the 2021 audio pieces not being as good as in the years past. I was surprised that “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”  had made it to the top by the end of the year, but it’s one of those “long tail” audio pieces that continues to attract listeners long after it was first posted. “Escape”  was another surprise, because both my vocal and fiddle performance was aiming at “not pretty.” I didn’t expect that one to be so popular.

Early T-Rex and Swinburne - Bongo Fury!

What more can I say in my defense? T-Rex before they had a hyphen and then Swinburne. Bongo Fury!

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Least listened-to new piece last year (excluding those from end of the year that probably haven’t risen to their eventual level)? “Love and Sleep.”  Maybe I just couldn’t pull off a fusion of Algernon Charles Swinburne and early Tyrannosaurus Rex — even with a line like “Glittering eyelids of my soul’s desire…” dictating that attempt.

I really hope to have more new pieces here soon, but since it’s not one cause that is preventing things from progressing, I can’t be sure how quickly we’ll get to our 600th audio piece combining various words (mostly poetry) with original music (as varied as I can make it). Thanks to everyone who read and listened here last year. I appreciate your time and attention — and then even more so the likes, reblogs, mentions, Tweets and Facebook posts. I want to reward all of you with more encounters with new stuff. I really do. Wishing all of us a productive New Year….

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