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

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

World Book Day 2016

Rarely have I felt as underdressed as I did when I visited Osbaldwick Primary School on World Book Day last week. I was the only person in mufti. The whole school – including all the teachers – were dressed as characters from books!

At the school’s Osbaldwick Lane site, the teachers were dressed as characters from Alice in Wonderland:

Osbaldwick Alice cr 2

And at the school’s other, Leyes, site, the teachers were all dressed as dalmations from 101 Dalmations:

Osbaldwick dalmation 2

I had to concentrate very hard to be able to perform my Buzzing! show whilst looking out over a sea of Wallys and Little Red Riding Hoods and Harry Potters and Hermiones and … and … and … .

In the audience of my Leyes site show I spotted a Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web. Just the person – sorry, just the spider – I needed to come and perform my spider poem with me. Charlotte was fabulously attired, and with exactly the right number of limbs!

Thank you to everyone at both Osbaldwick Primary School sites for welcoming me so warmly into your school on World Book Day. I enjoyed putting on shows and workshops for you all in your fabulous costumes.

Alice and the King of Hearts who assisted me in my morning Buzzing! show

Alice (aka Mrs Mowat) and the King of Hearts who assisted me in my morning Buzzing! show

What did Osbaldwick think of my visit? Well, Year 6 teacher Mrs Mowat said I’d put on:

‘A fantastic workshop. The children were heavily involved and really enjoyed creating (and performing) their own poem.’

Afterwards she emailed to say:

‘The children (and the staff) throughly enjoyed themselves! I have had people coming up to me all afternoon saying how amazing they thought your show and workshops were. Thanks again for such a wonderful world book day.’

Well, thank you, Osbaldwick Primary, for inviting me to share World Book Day 2016 with you. I can only apologise for having been so boringly dressed … .

Thank you to Book Events for Schools for organising this visit for me. If you’d like me to come and put on some ‘amazing’ poetry shows and workshops at your school, then just get in contact with Book Events for Schools.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – – Bringing poetry to life

Great food for a great life in Calderdale

Lucky primary-school children of Calderdale, I say! I do so with some confidence having attended the Calderdale Food for Life School Awards event in gorgeous Hebden Bridge last week.

There I heard first hand from teachers and pupils about the wonderful work they’re doing around growing, cooking and sharing healthy, fresh, seasonal, local food in their schools. From inviting farmers’ markets into schools to putting on Father’s Day lunch for their Dads to growing the brussel sprouts for their school Christmas dinner, there are oodles of inspiring food-related activities going on in these schools.

I also heard very moving testimonies from school chefs who had transformed the food culture and the place of cooking in their schools. These included Tony Mulgrew, who won the 2014 BBC Food and Farming Cook of the Year Award.

We even got to share a delicious buffet of locally sourced food – cheeses and breads and pickles and … and … and … Fabulous!

Delicious locally sourced and produced buffet

Delicious locally sourced and produced buffet

We were all gathered in the stunning surroundings of Hebden Bridge Town Hall (the only community-owned Town Hall in England) to celebrate the achievements of local primary schools that had gained their Bronze or Silver Food for Life Awards. It was an important occasion. So important that the Mayor of Calderdale and the Mayor’s Consort were in attendance – both bedecked in regalia. (Funnily enough this is the second time I’ve performed to Calderdale Mayoral personages. But that’s another story …)

I had been invited to this event to put on a poetry performance and poetry workshop themed around food. As I had done at the York Food for Life Awards in March.

As soon as I got off the train in Hebden Bridge I was greeted by this sign:

Welcome to Hebden Bridge sign

So I had a feeling I was going to encounter some very creative juices that day. And I wasn’t wrong! The children of Old Town, Ling Bob, Midgley, Bolton Brow and Riverside primary schools came up with fabulous mystery food poems – some of which will be displayed at the Town Hall for all to enjoy. (Will you be able to guess the mystery food?)

Even the Mayor and her Consort joined in the poetry writing, and came up with a corking poem all about … Ah, but that would be telling!

Mayor of Calderdale Cllr Lisa Lambert and her consort, Mr Ken Lambert

Mayor of Calderdale Cllr Lisa Lambert and her consort, Mr Ken Lambert – with their Buzzing! bookmarks

What I can tell you is that the Mayor, her Consort, and all the children and other important grown-ups present joined in with gusto as I performed – amongst other poems – the World Premiere of my Rhubarb poem (inspired by the fabulous rhubarb I encountered on a recent visit to a York FFLP school).

If you’d like to join in the Rhubarb poem – indeed, if you’d like a poetry day themed around food, growing and healthy eating for your primary school – just email me. I’ll be delighted to respond to your school’s requirements.

And if you’re a grown-up with an event or special occasion in mind, you might like to check out my Rhyme and Dine events, in which I intersperse rib-tickling food poems between the courses of your meal.

cr v. sm Rhyme and Dine AED + Quote B

(See some Rhyme and Dine examples here.)

Meanwhile, congratulations to all the FFLP award winners on Thursday. Keep up the good work!

Thank you to Chloe Smee, Kay Whitfield and Leon Ballin of FFLP, who organised this special event and made my contribution to it run so smoothly. (And thank you, Chloe, for remembering the rhubarb!)

FFLP grown-ups Chloe and Kay, with the all-important rhubarb!

FFLP grown-ups Chloe and Kay, with the all-important rhubarb!

Bon appétit to you all!

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life






Photographing the darling buds of May

The theme chosen by Half Acres Primary School in Castleford for my photography workshops with them on Monday was ‘Signs of Summer’. However, this message clearly hadn’t percolated through to the relevant meteorological authorities, because the weather as I travelled down to them was appalling: driving, torrential rain and thunderous grey skies.

Fortunately, by the time Year 6 were ready to go on the photography missions I assigned them late morning, the rain had eased enough for us to be outside collecting material to photograph – albeit taking the actual photos under cover.

Taking photos undercover

Taking outdoor photos under cover

And when Year 5 went out in the afternoon, the sun decided to make a (brief) appearance, which meant that the children were able to find – and photograph – some fantastic minibeasts, amongst other things.

Young Half Acres photographers

Taking outdoor photos outdoors proper

I was very impressed by all the children I worked with at Half Acres. They got the hang of my Top Secret photography technique very quickly and put it into action in their school grounds enthusiastically.

The results? Well, here are a few of the – many – great photos they took:

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Well done to you all! I think Half Acres will be able to create their ‘Signs of Summer’ photography display after all!

Thank you to everyone at Half Acres who made my visit possible. Here’s to a sunny summer for us all …

If you’d like a photography workshop for your primary school, do get in touch. I’m afraid I won’t be able to guarantee good weather for my visit to you, but your pupils will learn a skill for life in a workshop that enhances their observational, motor, teamwork, art and IT skills, increases their confidence and their curiousity and knowledge about their surroundings, and leaves you with a bank of great photos – and great budding photographers.

‘I’m going to go out tomorrow lunchtime and look for more minibeasts on the playing field.’ Year 5 pupil

‘I’m going to go to my grandma’s house tonight and take pictures of her garden. She’s got lots of flowers.’ Year 5 pupil

Anneliese Emmans Dean –

National Non-Fiction November

So, how have you celebrated National Non-Fiction November this year? I’ve had two highlights. The first was being featured as the interview of the month by Book Events for Children. The second was spending a day at Driffield Junior School, where the theme of my visit was ‘Inventions’.

You may not realise it, but many of our most important inventions have been inspired by minibeasts. So I started my Driffield visit with a special Buzzing! show to introduce the whole school to some of these inventions. From paper to robots, minibeasts have shown us the way!

Year 6 is studying inventions and inventors at the moment, and I spent the rest of the day working with four Year 6 classes to bring poetry to that topic. We performed some of my inventing-inspired poetry together, then the pupils went on to create some fabulous invention-inspired poems of their own.

I’m hoping to be able to show you some of their poems soon. In the meantime you can read some of the teachers’ feedback here.

Was it a worthwhile visit? Well, Year 6 teacher Helen Mudd wrote to me afterwards that:

‘It really got the children fired up about writing poetry … All the children really loved meeting you and have produced some brilliant work … One boy upon entering school the next day said:

“Are we writing poetry again today? YYEEEEESSSSS!!!” ‘

I was particularly moved when I heard that one of the boys in their nurture unit had asked to read some poetry books the day after my visit, in preference to the other activities on offer.

I had a great day at Driffield Junior School, welcomed warmly by staff and (very polite, creative, enthusiastic and well-behaved) pupils alike. Thank you to one and all.

If you’d like to get Buzzing! inventive at your school, then just get in touch with me or with Book Events for Schools!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Ledbury Poetry Festival: Schools

Ledbury is a beautiful historic town in Herefordshire that plays host to a fabulous poetry festival each year (where I myself have performed).

Across the rooftops of historic Ledbury

Across the rooftops of historic Ledbury

But the Ledbury Poetry Festival is far from being a once-a-year flash in the pan.  It works throughout the year to promote poetry amongst  people across the age range. And as part of this work, I had the great good fortune to be invited back to Ledbury last week to work in a couple of local schools.

I very much enjoyed my visits to Cradley Primary School and Bromesberrow Primary School, where I was welcomed warmly by the staff and pupils.

Bromesberrow Primary School in Herefordshire

Bromesberrow Primary School in Herefordshire

What did I get up to in these schools? Well, I’ll let the Cradley News tell you:

‘Poet and photographer Anneliese Emmans Dean entertained us all with her brilliant ‘Buzzing!’ show – a selection of her wonderful poems and stunning photographs with musical interludes. We also learned quite a lot of science along the way! Anneliese worked with all the children throughout the day: Years 3 and 4 wrote beetle haiku poems; Years 5 and 6 wrote minibeast poems and Key Stage 1 became a giant millipede!’

There are some very talented budding poets down Cradley and Bromesberrow way, and I very much enjoyed working with them and watching them perform their poems at the end of the day.  I was also thrilled to read some of the poems that KS1 pupils had written in class after our Millipedes Galore workshop. Take a look at this wonderfully imaginative piece from Owen, for example:

Owen's poem

Owen's poem

There are also some talented naturalists. When I got to the ladybird section of my Buzzing! show, for instance, the pupils at Bromesberrow told me they had a whole crowd of ladybirds in the very room I was performing in.  So, I went to have a look, and lo and behold it was  a cluster of Harlequin ladybirds.

Harlequin ladybirds in Herefordshire

Harlequin ladybirds in Herefordshire

I had heard of Harlequin ladybirds massing like this, but I’d never actually seen them doing so. They provided a very useful springboard into our beetle poetry writing. But I’m not sure I’d like a whole host of them in my house!

I’m letting the Harlequin Ladybird Survey know about this sighting. If you see Harlequins where you are, do tell the survey.

I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone involved in my Herefordshire adventure, including the wonderful Fran Godfrey, who ferried me through beautiful countryside to the right schools at the right time, Victoria Patch and Chloe Garner of Ledbury Poetry Festival, and Alan who allowed us to stay in his beautiful house.

And if you’d like to be edu-tained with my ‘brilliant’ Buzzing! show at your school, just get in touch:

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing Poetry to Life