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

 

Much magic at Much Marcle

What an inspired idea! Bring children from different primary schools together at a gorgeous venue, set in fabulous grounds, for a day-long poetry festival in the company of three very different poets.

The idea was Chloe Garner’s. She’s the Director of the – very wonderful – Ledbury Poetry Festival.

Chloe Garner - Director of the Ledbury Poetry Festival

Chloe Garner – Director of the Ledbury Poetry Festival

The gorgeous venue was Hellens Manor, in Much Marcle, Herefordshire, not a million miles down the road from Ledbury:

Hellens Manor

Hellens Manor, Herefordshire

The grounds are gorgeous, both formal:

The grounds of Hellens Manor

The grounds of Hellens Manor

And more wild:

The grounds at Hellens Manor

The grounds at Hellens Manor. (The elephant is a sculpture, in case you were wondering!)

And the poets were me:

Anneliese Emmans Dean at Hellens Manor

Me!

Sara Hirsch:

Sara Hirsch, preparing her next workshop!

Sara Hirsch, preparing her next workshop …

and Rob Gee (who I kept meaning to take a snap of, but didn’t get around to!)

We three poets performed for the children and with the children, we put on poetry writing and performance workshops, and we all came together at the end of the day to listen to the children performing their new work.

Then we did something very similar the next day (with different children).

And the children? What did they make of it all?

Children in our Poetry Festival lunch break

Children in our Poetry Festival lunch break

Well, here’s the – completely unsolicited – letter one of the children gave me:

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’

Can’t ask for much more than that!

And the grown-ups? What did they think? Here’s some feedback from one of the accompanying mums:

‘What a joy it was to join my son’s primary school and 2 other schools for a
Festival of poetry at Hellens Manor.
A trip out of school to such a beautiful yet friendly location was a great
start to engaging the children but then a day of hard listening, thinking
and writing really got them buzzing and creating. The three so different but
excellent poets performed wonderfully right from the start as the children
asked questions; then listened to the funny, serious, challenging and even
slightly naughty material; then enjoyed three absorbing workshops and
finally performed their own work to their friends and new friends, using a
mic.
Conversations and laughing about the poetry continued in the car and I
believe was taken up next day in lesson plan changes by their teachers.
If days like these don’t get children realising that writing and poetry can
be so rewarding, fun and exciting, I don’t know what will.’

As for me … I found it a very enriching and inspiring experience, in a location so beautiful that I could quite happily have stayed there for ever and ever and ever …!

Fortunately, Chloe is hoping to put on a similar events in the future. Next time she invites me, I may just have to refuse to leave the premises at the end of it all …

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

 

 

 

Job Satisfaction

I’m just back from Herefordshire, where I’ve been putting on poetry performances and workshops with primary-school children for the Ledbury Poetry Festival. I’ll tell you more about it later. For now, I’d just like to share this fabulous – completely unsolicited – letter that one of the children came up to me and gave me. I was completely bowled over. Job satisfaction doesn’t get much better than this!

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

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: info@theBigBuzz.biz

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing Poetry to Life