2017: The Year in Review

Time to look back at theBigBuzz highlights of 2017! So, without further ado, here goes …

AGM of the year: Bumblebee Conservation Trust

With Gil Perkins, BBCT CEO, at the BBCT 2017 AGM in York

With Gill Perkins, BBCT CEO, at the BBCT 2017 AGM in York

Award of the year: York Culture Award – Excellence in Writing

Being presented with the York Culture Award for Excellence in Writing at the award ceremony in York Minster, November 2017. (Photo: Paula Duck)

Best use of my poems by someone else: Catherine Heinemeyer and York Theatre Royal’s Project B Youth Theatre group

Project B children leaving their cosy nest (or not!)

Project B children leaving their cosy nest (or not!)

Book review of the year: York Press review of Flying High!

Bookshop events: Here, there and everywhere!

Booksigning in Waterstones in Hull, the UK City of Culture

Booksigning in Waterstones in Hull, the UK City of Culture

Collaboration of the year: Poetree with Vikki Pendry

The cover of Applefields School 'Thank You' pack

The cover of Applefields School ‘Thank You’ pack

Commission of the Year: Alex’s 18th birthday poem

Alex's 18th-birthday celebrations

Alex’s 18th-birthday celebrations

Competition of the year: The P-Factor

The Langton School winners of the P Factor 2017 - with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

The Langton School winners of the P Factor 2017 – with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

Family event of the year: Tang Hall Family Festival

Mug painters extraordinaire at Tang Hall Family Festival, 23 July 2017

Feedback of the year: From Paige at Ledbury Schools Poetry Festival

A letter from one of the participants in the 'Poetry Festival in a Day' I took part in

A letter from one of the participants in the ‘Poetry Festival in a Day’ I took part in

Grown-up workshop of the year: St Nicks Ecotherapy ‘Connect to nature with creative writing’ group

St Nicks in the summer

Launch event of the year: Flying High at York Festival of Ideas, with bird walk led by RSBP V-P Prof. Sir John Lawton

With Flying High! photographer Mandy West, Prof. Sir John Lawton and Flying High! photographer Roy Lowry.

Library appearance of the year: Easingwold Community Library

Some of the audience joining in ...

Some of the audience joining in …

Literary Limerick of the year: Literary Limerick no. 3

Most gorgeous venue: Hellens, Much Marcle (for Ledbury Poetry Festival)

Hellens Manor

Hellens Manor, Herefordshire

New publication of the year: Flying High!

Outdoor classroom day: Rose Court, The Grammar School at Leeds

Rose Court Year 2 pupils being millipedes (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

Rose Court Year 2 pupils being millipedes (Photo by Rachel Cockburn)

Outdoor event of the year: Scampston Hall – Ryedale Book Festival

Photography workshop of the year: East Riding Treasure House, Beverley, to tie in with the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition

Family Photography Workshop in Beverley

Family Photography Workshop in Beverley. (Photos by Sarah Hammond)

Podcast of the year: Ledbury Poetry Festival – Poetry Salon

Poetry/Pizza party of the year: York Blind and Partially Sighted Society

With some of the participants and their Poetry Pizzas

With some of the participants and their Poetry Pizzas

Radio appearance of the year: BBC Radio York – Finders Keepers

BBC Radio York Finders Keepers reporter Abigail with Easingwold Community Library volunteer Diana, and Jess, who saved the day!

BBC Radio York Finders Keepers reporter Abigail with Easingwold Community Library volunteer Diana, and Jess, who saved the day!

Video of the year: A tie between Frack Off! and my Ledbury Poetry Festival Oulipo poem

Thank you to everyone involved in making all of the above so enjoyable and uplifting.

If you’d like me to come and put on an event for you, then just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

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Word Power

Sitting in the train, coming home from Ledbury last week, I was meditating on what I’d experienced over the previous couple of days, and on what we, as poets, had achieved and encountered in all our Ledbury Poetry Festival work with schools over the course of the year. (You can read about the early events we put on here.)

The latest workshops I’d put on for the Festival were with Year 7 and Year 8 pupils. I’d asked them to pull words from the letters that form the name of their school. Then we’d created a poem from the words they’d found.

On the train, I found myself doing the exactly same thing, but starting with the words ‘Ledbury Poetry Festival’. And then, just as in the workshop, I began fitting the words together, coming up with patterns and combinations, a thread, a structure, a story.

The video below is the end result. My ruminations on the six school ‘Poetry Festivals in a Day’ that over the course of this year I had taken part in for Ledbury Poetry Festival (along with fellow poets Sara Hirsch, Rob Gee, Mike Barfield and Matt Black). What I’d seen, what I’d heard, what I’d contributed, what I’d witnessed, what I’d experienced. What we’d unleashed. And its value. The value of giving children and young people a fresh creative space in which to explore and play with words. (Oh how I’d have loved to have had that opportunity when I was at school!)

You can get an idea of the value of these Festival events from the feedback we were getting from the Year 7/8 staff last Thursday:

‘Normally he won’t listen and won’t still still, but today he is so engaged.’

and

‘We’re seeing a completely different side to them here.’

All this ties in with the discussion I had at Ledbury Poetry Salon recently about the importance of poets working with school pupils. You can hear that discussion – with Festival Director Chloe Garner and fellow poet Sara Hirsch – as a podcast here. (The discussion comes after our initial performances.)

The Year 7 and Year 8 pupils we worked with last week are going to create an anthology from the poems they wrote with us at the Festival. I’m looking forward very much to reading it.

Meanwhile, as I was finishing this poem, I came across an article in the latest  NAWE ‘Writing in Education’ journal about ‘the importance of teachers being writers alongside children being writers’. In this spirit I offer this poem to the pupils I was working with at the Festival. To show them how I do just what I was asking them to do. And how, in this instance, it worked out for me.

I hope it might inspire you to find the poems hidden in the everyday words around you, too.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Poetry Podcast

If you’ve ever wondered what it is I do, and why, if you’ve ever wondered what it is poets do in schools, and why, then might I suggest you check out this podcast?

If you’ve ever wondered what my poems for grown-ups sound like in performance, if you’ve ever wondered how my poems for grown-ups contrast with those of another spoken word artist (in this case, the very wonderful Sara Hirsch), then might I suggest you check out this podcast?

And if, like me, you’re just getting into podcasts, and want to try out what’s out there, then might I suggest you try listening to this one?

You’ll see that this podcast was recorded at Ledbury Poetry Festival’s Poetry Salon, where different poets are invited to come and perform, then take part in a Q&A about their work.

I relished the opportunity to perform some of my more edgy, contemporary poems for adults, then to listen to the very talented Sara Hirsch perform, and then to discuss with the audience the work we both do in schools. Sara works predominantly in secondary schools and I work predominantly in primary schools. It was very interesting for me to hear her experiences and for us both to explore how we work with pupils and the value of our work.

Identity, empathy, resilience, creativity – these are some of the issues we discuss.

Have a listen. See what you think.

And if you’d like to know more about the work I do in schools, you can do so here and here and here.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

The P-Factor 2017

So excited was I by the prospect of judging the Ryedale Book Festival P-Factor Grand Final this year that I penned a poem. But I only penned it a couple of days before the event. Did I have time to learn it? Did I have the nerve to perform it at the event itself?

As the poem aimed to inspire the children to give the very best of themselves in their performances that afternoon, I decided to take my courage into my hands and give it a go. Here’s the result:

The results that really counted that day, of course, were those of the P-Factor competition itself. Schools from around Ryedale came to Malton to perform the poems they’d learned in front of a panel of three judges – poets Mandy Coe, Catherine Boddy and me (all of whom had performed for the children in the morning).

The P Factor 2017 Judges: Catherine Boddy, Mandy Coe, and me

The P Factor 2017 Judges: Catherine Boddy, Mandy Coe, and me

I knew from the last time I’d judged the competition (back in 2015, along with John Hegley, P-Factor founder Andy Seed and Steven Nash) that I was in for a treat! And this year’s contestants did not disappoint.

The props this year included a real live chocolate cake, which a child proceeded to consume in front of our very eyes as part of his rendition of Michael Rosen’s ‘Chocolate Cake’ poem!

Over the course of the afternoon children performed a wide variety of poems. They rapped, they made us laugh, they brought a tear to our eyes. They all brought poetry to life.

We judges were only supposed to come up with one winner and one runner-up. But the three girls from Kirkbymoorside Primary School were so good that we had to invent a special ‘Highly Commended’ prize category just for them!

The Runners-up of this year’s competition were … the team from Wellburn Hall School with their fabulous rendition of an Anansi Spider poem:

The Wellburn Hall School P-Factor 2017 runners-up, with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

The Wellburn Hall School P-Factor 2017 runners-up, with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

And the winners were … the Langton Primary School team, with their faultless performance of Michael Rosen’s ‘Strict’ poem!

The Langton School winners of the P Factor 2017 - with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

The Langton School winners of the P-Factor 2017 – with the Mayor of Malton and a gaggle of poets

This is such an inspiring event. An entire auditorium full of children cheering about, and performing, poetry – for a whole day. Whoof! And the competition gets live-streamed back to all the schools involved!

Hats off to Karen Saunders and Sarah Tyson of Ryedale Book Festival for all they do to make this event happen. And to all the other Festival volunteers and tech people who made this year’s event go so well. Massive thanks too to the teachers and pupils of all the schools involved, for the time, energy and creativity you put into the competition.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s event!

P-Factor 2017 Runners-Up from Wellburn Hall School in costume!

P-Factor 2017 runners-up from Wellburn Hall School in costume!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

National Poetry Day 2017

It’s National Poetry Day on Thursday (28 September), with this year’s theme being ‘Freedom’. So, here’s a freedom-themed poetry video to kick-start your National Poetry Day celebrations:

View more of my poetry videos here.

Happy National Poetry Day – wherever you may be!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Ecotherapy at St Nicks

I put on a poetry-writing session with the Ecotherapy ‘Connect to Nature with Creative Writing’ Group at St Nicks in York last week. They wanted me to begin my session with a few of my own poems. This is one that I thought apt:

Then we started our workshop proper.

I was bowled over by the quality of work the participants came up with. It far exceeded my expectations. I’d like to thank all the members of the group for letting me come and join them, and for sharing their thoughts and words and imaginations with me.

I was there as part of a project to … ah, well, that would be telling. More about that later!

Meanwhile, I had some lovely words back from participants and organisers of the group:

‘Thank you so much Anneliese, your workshop was so lively, fun and well organised, thank you. ‘

‘The poetry workshop was excellent… The feedback I have received today from group members was very positive – saying that they were very pleased with the outcome and … enjoyed getting involved and felt very pleased they had participated.’

I was very pleased to have participated too.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Pizza and Poetry Party

Catherine Bamford, Volunteer Manager at York Blind and Partially Sighted Society (YBPSS), is full of bright ideas! I know this from her days working at St Nicks. (Here are some of the things she and I got up to together then.) One of her latest bright ideas was to put on a Pizza and Poetry Party for YBPSS volunteers as part of Volunteers’ Week, which started yesterday. And guess who she asked to put on the ‘poetry’ part of the party. Yes, yours truly.

My remit was to put on an event that would result in the participants creating a poem that YBPSS could display. As it was a Pizza and Poetry Party, I came up with the idea of their creating Poetry Pizzas, to complement the pizzas we were going to eat.

Putting on the 'Poetry' part of our 'Pizza and Poetry Party' at YBPSS

Putting on the ‘Poetry’ part of our ‘Pizza and Poetry Party’ at YBPSS

The participants were a varied bunch, some fully sighted, some visually impaired, and included volunteers, a trustee and the Chief Officer herself!

I was really impressed by how they all threw themselves into our poetry workshop, and came up with poems that shone a light on the fabulous work they all do for and with blind and partially sighted people in York.

Some of their poems made us all chuckle. Some brought tears to my eyes. All went onto our poetry pizzas – which you can see in the photo below.

With some of the participants and their Poetry Pizzas

With some of the YBPSS participants and their Poetry Pizzas

Thank you to everyone who took part. It was a great pleasure meeting you all. And a privilege finding out about the volunteering work you do, making a difference to the lives of the – surprisingly large number of – people with visual impairments in York.

(Oh, and thank you for the pizzas – and cake! – which were all very delicious!)

If you fancy volunteering for YBPSS, contact Volunteer Manager Catherine on 01904 636269 or volunteermanager@ybpss.org.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life