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.’


‘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



Manchester Minibeast Limericks

I had the great good fortune to spend a day last week as the guest of Birchfields Primary School in Manchester. I started off by performing a Buzzing! show for all of KS2, then spent the rest of the day with Year 5 classes.

Year 5 were very imaginative and created an extraordinary range of brand new minibeasts – in limericks. This will come in very handy for the Cornerstones Beast Creator project they have started this week.

You can see what we all got up to at Birchfields at their fabulous blog. (Great use of iPad tech by Mr Lang!) Best of all, you can see there how the children got on after I left. That’s the bit I don’t usually get to see. And it is, of course, the most important bit of all.

I’m looking forward very much to seeing the models Year 5 create as part of their Beast Creator project. I hope they succeed in defeating their ‘super-aphids’!

Meanwhile, many thanks to Mr Lang for inviting me to his school and for looking after me so well whilst I was there. Thank you to everyone I encountered there who welcomed me so very warmly. It was a great pleasure to spend the day with you.

What did Mr Lang ang his pupils make of my visit? You can read some of their feedback here.

If you’d like your school to get Buzzing! – perhaps to link in with your Cornerstones Beast Creator project – then do email me.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Teaching Pack published for ‘Compost! The (mini-)Musical’

To mark Compost Awareness Week next week, I am launching the long-awaited Teaching Pack for ‘Compost! The (mini-)Musical‘, my fun BigBuzz eco-musical, which can be easily learned and performed –  indoors or out – by children and adults alike.

Find out more

Listen to an excerpt

Order your copy

Compost! The(mini-)Musical Teaching Pack is here ...Read feedback

Compost! The(mini-)Musical Teaching Pack is here

Find out more

Order your copy

Anneliese, her compost bin and her 'Compost! The (mini-)Musical' Teaching PackOrder your copy

Find out more about Compost! performances