Monday, May 27, 2013

UK Roku Private Channel - The Poetry Activist

Hi, everyone !!

Once in a while, a Roku channel will come along which offers something just that little bit out of the ordinary. Sometimes those channels will surprise you and, at other times, they may even teach you a thing or two. The recent addition of the "Quotes From Shakespeare" screensaver(s) to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store (as featured in my "Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #10") did both and, dare I say it, even brought some added culture to the Roku streaming media player, too.

Inspired by the words of Shakespeare emblazoned upon my TV screen, I got to thinking about the written word as an art form, in it's various guises, and decided that it would be good to bring you details of another culturally styled channel that you can add to your Roku players. This particular channel cannot be found in the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store, however, because it is another of those so-called Roku private channels, or Roku hidden channels (if you prefer). As I have said before, these hidden Roku channels are a GREAT WAY of broadening the selection of Roku channels UK users can add to their Roku players. So why not take this opportunity, to expand your Roku UK channel list, by adding something more cultural to your Roku player channel selection? "And what might that be?", I hear you ask...

Well, this private Roku channel is one of those Roku UK channels that is most likely to appeal to Roku owners with a keen interest in (or, who are curious about) the written word in the form of poetry. More specifically, it is a channel "...of literature, of creativity, and of social nature" meaning those of you who enjoy hearing poetry read aloud by the poets that created it (whether on stage at an open-mic poetry event or as part of a talk show interview or even a poetry festival performance) will no doubt be overjoyed that there is finally some content for Roku UK covering that particular area.

If you are among those who follow the companion Twitter Feed to this blog: @ukrokuchannels then you may have spotted one or two announcements (or 'tweets', if you prefer) between myself and another Twitter user: @thepoetryartist [aka John Rhodes] concerning the addition of "The Poetry Activist" channel to my UK Roku player. In which case, you may also have gleaned (most likely from the title of this very post) that this recent addition to my own Roku channel selection also happens to be the NEW ROKU PRIVATE CHANNEL that I'm offering you today. 

Anyway, like any of the other hidden Roku channels, you will need to enter one of the private channel codes for Roku (which I'll reveal to you later in the post). Those of you who have previous experience of 'Adding a Private Channel' to your Roku player(s) can skip the next two or three paragraphs, and rejoin the text slightly after the 'Add Channel' image, but IF THIS IS ALL NEW TO YOU... then I've outlined the necessary steps below:-

As always, when you must enter an invitation code to add a private or beta channel to your player, you will first need to sign in to your Roku Account online. Then, you will need to scroll about halfway down the page until you see the section headed "Manage Account". Below that is a link, in blue type, which says "Add a Private Channel" which you must click on to enter the Roku private channel code.

Having clicked on the "Add a Private Channel" link, you will be taken to a page headed "Add Channel"... below which, is a message inviting you to "Enter a channel access code to add a public channel, a private channel or a beta channel to your Roku account". Underneath that is a text entry box, where you will need to type the private channel access code (which, as I said, I'll reveal to you later in this post) and then it's just a matter of clicking the blue "Add Channel" button. 

Once the hidden channel code for The Poetry Activist channel has been successfully entered, you should then be greeted by the following on-screen message:-

HINT: Click on the above image to ENLARGE IT for easier viewing

You must then decide whether to install The Poetry Activist channel on your Roku player, by clicking the "Yes, Add Channel" button, or to simply "Cancel" and return to the previous screen.

Assuming that you do install the channel, you should then see it listed alongside all the other channels (both private and those from the channel store) which have been added to your Roku player. Look for The Poetry Activist channel icon (as pictured above) as you scroll through your list of channels and you should soon find it there. 

When you load the channel, to make your viewing selection, you will find that the main menu is (currently) comprised of just one item, in the form of The Poetry Activist Channel List, which (if you then press the "OK" button on your Roku remote) will take you to a SUB-MENU that includes:- 

  • John Rhodes YouTube Poetry Collection (including 3D Anaglyph);
  • The Poetry Activist Channel (as seen on The Internet Archive);
  • Little Bird Told Me (John Rhodes' Audio Novel), and;
  • The San Francisco Open Mic Poetry TV Show

Within the John Rhodes YouTube Poetry Collection, you will (currently) find a selection of NINE VIDEOS featuring the likes of Gary Young (Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz), Ellyn Maybe, Gary Turchin, Don Brennan and Stephen Kopel which are mostly taken from poetry readings at Sacred Grounds coffee house in the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco OR from Daniel Yaryan's Poetry 'Special Event', otherwise known as "Sparring with Beatnik Ghosts".

The Poetry Activist Channel (currently) incorporates a FURTHER SUB-MENU featuring a channel array that includes a total of THIRTEEN VIDEOS from the Watershed Poetry Festival 2010 PLUS the Berkeley Poetry Festival 2010-2012 AND from the PEG TV version of San Francisco Poetry TV. Among the poets featured as part of The Poetry Activist Channel are Clive Matson, Bob Clifford, Adam David Miller, Clara Hsu, Jack & Adelle Foley, Peter Thabit Jones, Carolyn Mary Kleefeld, Joyce Jenkins and Richard Silberg.

Little Bird Told Me: An Audio Novel by John Rhodes includes EIGHT VIDEOS that cover the various chapters of the book, collectively presented in an audio book format that can be listened to on your Roku player in much the same way as an audio podcast or radio channel.

The San Francisco Open Mic Poetry TV Show (currently) offers a choice of TWENTY-SIX VIDEOS featuring the poetic stylings of Ana Elsner, Bill Gainer, Bill Mercer, Carolyn Mary Kleefeld, Cesar Love, Clara Hsu, Dana Teen Lomax, Don Brennan, Herman Berlandt, Ivan Arguelles, Jack Foley, Jeffrey Lilly, Jesse Glass, Joan Gelfand, John "J.C." Cosgrave, John Rhodes, Ken Saffran, Marvin Heimstra, Mel Thompson, Peter Thabit Jones, Richard Loranger, Selene Steese, Stephanie Manning, Steve Arnston and Steve Mackin. 

The host of the "San Francisco Open Mic Poetry TV Show" and developer of this Roku private channel, John Rhodes, is a writer / artist of all genres as well as a videographer. He decided to start this channel as an additional means of watching his public access "San Francisco Open Mic Poetry TV Show", with the idea of then expanding it to include videos by his friends (from their collections) as well as other public access TV shows. By his own admission, this Roku private channel is a little rough around the edges, to wit there are even random clips of the B-movie "Plan 9 From Outer Space" dotted around amongst the various videos on offer. Perhaps by including a 'benchmark' video of the "worst movie ever made" (at least, according to Michael & Harry Medved - who also posthumously awarded it's director, Edward D. Wood, with their "Golden Turkey Award" as the "worst director ever") it would mean that ALL OF THE CONTENT INCLUDED was, at least, better than that ?!! No, I'm just kidding... because, if it was too polished, it just wouldn't be artistic, would it ??!!!!

In all seriousness, though, there is SOME EXCELLENT CONTENT included here. There are plenty of links to the "Beat Generation", as you might expect given the precise locale of the channel's developer and the fact that some of the footage was actually shot at The Beat Museum in the North Beach area of San Francisco which, itself, was at the very centre of the Beat Movement. There are also some fine examples of work from the more modern movement of "After Hours Poetry" as evidenced by the inclusion of poems by Bill Gainer and others, who themselves were influenced by the likes of Richard Brautigan (for his bold, courageous openness of language & off-centered brevity of style), Michael McClure (for his challenge of censorship and his use of brevity & subject), Ann Menebroker (for her raw sensuality & compact confessional work) and "Meat Poets" (sic) such as the great Charles Bukowski (for their boldness of style, directness of subject & understanding of story). If you are coming to this from a musical perspective, fans of Johnny Cash, Patti Smith & Tom Waits (whose story-telling talents are second to none) will not be disappointed with what is on offer here.

There are also some very enlightening interviews featured on The Poetry Activist channel in which some interesting concepts are discussed, such as the idea behind "The Poetry Hotel" where guests would 'pay' for their stay by donating poems. Many of the interviewees provide  further poems for our entertainment, such as those in the video with Joyce Jenkins (Editor / Publisher) & Richard Silberg (Associate Editor) of Poetry Flash (Literary Review & Calendar). In particular, during the interview with Joyce Jenkins, conducted by Clara Hsu, we are treated to a wonderful poem called "Piano Man" about the experience of listening to a jazz pianist in a small Mexican restaurant in Berkeley and another "real San Francisco poem" based on the auction of Kerouac's scroll for "On The Road", while both are preceded by the delightful "Peyote Poem #2". Equally worthy of mention is the poem "Sleeping Lady" with it's beautifully descriptive account of Mount Tamalpaias. This was crafted by the pen of John "J.C." Cosgrave, whose travels around Marin County & the wider forested areas of the great North West region of the USA have produced some wonderful poems over the years. 

Perhaps of most significance to UK Roku viewers, however, are the videos that feature a Welsh-born poet, called Peter Thabit Jones, well-known (in Swansea, at least) for having his poem, "Kilvey Hill", incorporated into a permanent stained-glass window in the Saint Thomas Community School which was officially opened in July, 2007. Although his poetry has also been featured on British Television (HTV Wales), American Television, BBC Radio 3 and 4, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Educational Cassettes and on both MacMillan & Scholastic Publications educational audio releases. Here he can be seen reading his poetry at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, California. At the time of these recordings, Peter was working as a writer in residence in Big Sur and even wrote a book of poems titled "Poems From A Cabin In Big Sur" while at the same time producing a three-act drama, called "The Fire In The Wood", about sculptor Edmund Kara whose close friend, Carolyn Mary Kleefeld (who, incidentally, also features on "The Poetry Activist" channel), contributed several texts to the multi-media (incl. verse & prose, music, photos, film and several paintings) project.

Of course, as with any art form, appreciation of that 'art' is down to the individual and, as such, opinions will vary from one person to the next. As much as I have enthused about some of the videos that John Rhodes has added to this Roku channel, there were others that (in my opinion) did not warrant repeat viewing. However, that is not to say that others of you will like / dislike the same things I do. Nor does it mean that, because certain videos were not singled out for a mention, they are any less worthy than those I have included here. FYI, much of the content that is available on 'The Poetry Activist' channel  I have yet to watch but, whether good or bad (again, in my opinion), I still very much look forward to doing so, as & when I get the chance.

Most of the videos featured on The Poetry Activist channel come in at around the 15-20 minute mark. This includes the majority of the twenty-six videos found in The San Francisco Open Mic Poetry TV Show sub-channel. That said, the 56 videos do vary in length from circa 2-3 mins (e.g. for the shorter YouTube clips) to around an hour and a half (for the festival performances). It would have been useful if the developer had included the running times within the individual descriptions for each of the included videos. This would allow people to plan their viewing more easily, given that the duration varies so widely from one video to the next. Quality-wise, you will find a mixture of both HD (High Definition) and SD (Standard Definition) content but, unfortunately, the audio quality can and does suffer in places (it can get VERY LOUD, especially during the intros ON CERTAIN VIDEOS) but not enough to spoil the overall experience. Essentially, more a minor niggle than an annoyance !!

To sum it up... if you enjoy Open Mic Poetry Readings and/or Poetry Festivals, or if you are interested in watching interviews with the assortment of creative talent involved in these poetic circles, PLUS if you like the sound of this culturally styled private Roku channel (from what you've read here) then you will probably now want to add 'The Poetry Activist' channel to your Roku streaming media player. In which case, you can do so easily (via your online Roku Account) by clicking on the following direct link:-

ADD CHANNEL: The Poetry Activist

Alternatively, you can access your Roku Account online (without using the 'ADD CHANNEL' link, above) and from there, use the 'Add a Private Channel' option to then enter the access code manually, yourself. That being the case, the code you will need to type in is:-

CODE: sfpoet

If you'd like to know more about the developer of this channel: whether as a viewer / poetry enthusiast, keen to discuss what you have seen, or; as a poet / interested party, looking to be featured / interviewed for a future episode... you can do so, via the Official Website for John Rhodes, at:-


For those of you who may prefer to use Twitter to keep up with the latest news from this writer / artist of all genres, prolific videographer & independent Roku channel developer, you can follow him at:-


If Facebook is more your thing, then John Rhodes can be found at:-


If you do decide to get social with John, please be sure to let him know that you heard about 'The Poetry Activist' channel here and tell him I said, "Hi". While you're there, remember to thank him for making his channel available to Roku users in the UK. Not forgetting it's now available in the Rest of the World, too (or so I'm led to believe) !!

Finally, if you would like to browse John Rhodes' videos on YouTube, you will find them on:-


Meanwhile, if this particular channel was not your cup of tea (so-to-speak), just remember to visit this blog again at sometime in the future, when there will be plenty more Roku channel codes for you to read about & try out on your Roku streaming media players. For, when it comes to publishing details of all UK Roku Private Channels, UK Roku Hidden Channels, UK Roku Beta Channels and 'Other' Roku channels... call them what you will, they will ALL be found right here (alongside all of the other UK Roku-related goodness on offer), via the pages of this very blog.

Our continued aim is to provide details that are relevant to UK Roku users, with the further assurance that any Roku channel codes that are published here will always have been tested first on a UK Roku player. In this way, you know for certain that they will work on Roku streaming media players, here in the UK (at the time of publication) and that the code(s) used will have all resulted in an 'Add Channel' screen (as shown above) when entered via a UK Roku Account online.

So, when it comes to extending your Roku UK channel list, no matter whether it's by adding Roku private channels or any of the "Official" Roku channels 2013 may have to offer, you will always find the information needed for the Roku channels UK users can add to their players published here. Suffice to say that no Roku channels UK list would be complete without at least one of the Roku hidden channels written about here. In fact, when it comes to UK private Roku channels (specifically) there is no source more reliable for these hidden Roku channels and other new channels for Roku United Kingdom than what you find right here. With that in mind, be sure to visit this blog again soon if you want details on what UK Roku users can add to their Roku UK players.

Not forgetting (of course) that, as well as finding details of all the Roku Private Channels UK users can add to their Roku players, you will also be getting the scoop on all the latest additions to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store. This comes to you, courtesy of our 'Weekly RoundUp' feature (published every Saturday) but, as readers of the Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #5 will no doubt attest, some weeks have fewer new channels than others !!

Still, that's about it for this post. There will be more articles on Roku UK coming to these pages sometime soon. Meanwhile, for those of you who are really into your Roku player(s), and don't want to miss a beat when it comes to Roku UK news and updates, may I suggest that you keep an eye on the associated Twitter Feed for this blog: @ukrokuchannels for all your interim Roku UK tweets.

Until the next time, then...

That's all folks !!

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