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



Edgbaston High School for Girls

It was with some trepidation that I tried out  my Brummie accent on a hall full of pupils at Edgbaston High School for Girls in Birmingham on Friday morning. My attempt was greeted with howls of laughter. Howls of derision? Howls of recognition? Who knows … But I did have a great day at the school!

After my Buzzing! show (about insect girl power in the garden), I set about putting on poetry workshops for the girls in Years 7, 8 and 9. This was a big responsibility, as the poems they wrote are going to be entered into a House Competition for Science Week!

I don’t envy the teachers judging the competition, as the girls came up with some fantastic poems in a vast range of styles, including rap, haikus, free verse and rhyming couplets …

I could tell you more, but it’s my turn to write a poem for a deadline now! I need to go off  and work on the poem I’ve been commissioned to write for the Radio 2 Arts Show this Friday (19th March). I’ve been invited on the show to discuss World Poetry Day with the great Roger McGough and host, Eve Pollard.

Just time now to thank everyone at Edgbaston High School for Girls for their warm welcome, and especially to Caroline Greenwood for all the work she put in to ensure the day ran so smoothly.

See photos of the day here.

Stop press: I’ve since been invited back to work with the Prep School. Looking forward to that enormously!

Anneliese Emmans DeantheBigBuzzinfo@theBigBuzz.biz

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.

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Listen to an excerpt

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

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

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

Find out more about Compost! performances