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

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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Flying High! at St Nicks

You may recall I am a Patron of St Nicks, the Centre for Nature and Green Living here in York. It was a great pleasure to put on a Flying High! show there last week, to celebrate the recent launch of my Flying High! book (and raise funds for St Nicks through book sales).

Flying High! at St Nicks

Flying High! at St Nicks. (Photo by Lewis Outing)

It was a particular pleasure as my secondary school English teacher Mrs Green was in attendance. If you check out the Acknowledgements page, you’ll see I have a word or two to say about her there! (N.B. She has been trying for some time to persuade me to call her by her first name, but after so many years of handing in homework to be marked by her, you’ll understand why I find that impossible.)

Another important person who turned up was Lewis Outing, who is one of the photographers whose bird images appear in Flying High! His upturned duck photo (on page 65 of the book) raised a laugh from the audience when it was projected onscreen as part of my show. And those ducks are, of course, St Nicks’ ducks – the photo having been taken along the beck that runs through St Nicks.

So here, for the record, am I with the aforementioned Lewis Outing and Mrs Green, and the yet-to-be-mentioned Ivana, who organised the whole event so seamlessly.

From left to right: Me, Lewis Outing, Mrs Green, Ivana from St Nicks

From left to right: Me, Lewis Outing, Mrs Green, Ivana from St Nicks

And as you’ll see, the rain actually held off long enough for all four of us to go outside and have our photo taken! Hurrah!

Ivana says she’s going to put together a little video of the event, so I’ll let you know when that’s available.

Meanwhile, thank you to all concerned with this event (especially to my parents for managing to make it there).

Happy birding, wherever you may be!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

St Nicks Autumn Fayre

I love putting on community poetry activities. They’re a great way of getting everyone involved in an event. And anyone who was anyone was getting involved in the Amazing Autumn Acrostic being created at St Nicks Autumn Fayre yesterday. From York’s MP Rachael Maskell and the Sheriff’s Lady, Brenda Tyler, through to both the junior and senior winners of this year’s Longest Apple Peel contest, young and old alike helped create our acrostic poem, as you can see from the slideshow below.

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The weather was kind to us, and it was a delight to see people of all ages and from all backgrounds stream into ‘the green heart of York‘, to look around and take part in a host of autumnal activities, from apple juicing to apple olympics, bird walks to water vole wanders, Nordic walking to sloe gin tasting.

The Civic Party arrived by tuktuk (100% electric; zero emissions):

The Lord Mayor's party arriving by tuktuk

The Lord Mayor’s party arriving by tuktuk

and joined in events with gusto:

The Sheriff and Sheriff's Lady taking part in the Longest Apple Peel competition

The Sheriff and Sheriff’s Lady taking part in the Longest Apple Peel competition

And as for the cake competition – mouthwatering in the extreme!

Some of the entries in the cake competition

Some of the entries in the cake competition

At the end of the Fayre we had two complete Autumn Acrostics that celebrated what visitors had enjoyed about the day, and about St Nicks in general.

Me, Ivana of St Nicks and the two complete acrostics

Me, Ivana of St Nicks and the two complete acrostics

I realise it’s a tad tricky to read these, so let me quote some of the lines for you here:

‘Totally blown away by apple-juice making scrumptiousness’

‘Bobbing apples was amazing’

‘Nature in the middle of town and the community’

‘Really, really, really looooong apple peels’

‘Acrobatic minibeasts’

‘Song thrushes, sycamores and sawflies’

‘Talking with old friends’

‘Amazing autumnal activities’

‘Swinging on the swings’

‘Carefree autumnal strolls’

‘Looking for butterflies makes me feel happy’

‘Going through the bendy paths is fun’

‘Gaining my potter’s spot’

‘Sloe gin after Nordic walking’

Winner of the Longest Apple Peel competition (Junior section)

Winner of the Longest Apple Peel competition (Junior section)

If you missed this year’s Fayre, look out for the upcoming events at St Nicks. But you don’t have to wait for a special event. Come and walk around your local nature reserve any time you fancy. (Directions here.) Who knows, you might even spot a water vole!

Thank you to Ivana and all the other staff members and volunteers who made St Nicks Autumn Fayre such a success. It’s a privilege to be a St Nicks patron.

Oh, and if you’d like me to put on a community poetry event where you are, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Ecotherapy at St Nicks

With my ‘Patron of St Nicks’ hat on, let me say how proud I was to attend the launch of the new Ecotherapy project there today. Run by Kathy Sturgess, the project has its very own Ecotherapy Chalet right next to the main St Nicks building.

Project leader Kathy Sturgess outside the new Ecotherapy Chalet at St Nicks, York

Project leader Kathy Sturgess outside the new Ecotherapy Chalet at St Nicks, York

Ecotherapy promotes good mental and physical wellbeing through outdoor activity in the natural environment. I’m looking forward to contributing to the activities on offer there as part of the project. Today’s launch offered the chance to sample some of the upcoming activities, which will take place under four umbrella headings:

  • Connecting to Nature
  • Green Fingers
  • Bearing Fruit
  • Plot to Plate.
Sampling the Ecotherapy activities that will be on offer at St Nicks

Sampling some of the Ecotherapy activities that will be on offer at St Nicks

We had absolutely beautiful weather for the launch, so visitors were able to enjoy the very best St Nicks has to offer (including delicious cake!)

St Nicks in the sunshine on Ecotherapy Launch Day

St Nicks in the sunshine on Ecotherapy Launch Day

If you, or someone you know, might benefit from taking part in this Ecotherapy project, just contact Kathy on 01904 411821 or ecotherapy@stnicks.org.uk to find out more. Meanwhile, there’s more information here.

Finding out more inside the St Nicks Ecotherapy Chalet

Finding out more inside the St Nicks Ecotherapy Chalet

The Ecotheraphy Project is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. I’m looking forward to it making a Big Difference to people’s lives.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Buzzing! for grown-ups

For a Buzzing! review with a difference, may I point you in the direction of Mark Avery’s blog?  There you’ll find an assessment not only of the content of my book, but also of my drinking habits and even the quality of my handwriting!

The bit about my book is interesting as it gives you a grown-up’s perspective on Buzzing! Which, in Mark’s case, is that:

‘The poems are very catchy and often contain a lot of information – learning the poems is an easy way to learn the information … This seems like one of those rare successful mixtures of science and art … I really like the book.’

Phew! And I, as it happens, really like the book Mark Avery has written called Fighting for Birds. I shall tell you more about his book on another occasion, but for now you can find out more about it here and more about Mark (whom you may recall I met at the Hay Festival recently, when we were both recording programmes for BBC Radio 4) here.

If you too are a grown-up and would like to experience a live grown-up version of Buzzing!, then come along to the ‘green heart of York’ that is St Nicks this coming Tuesday 15 July, where I’ll be performing a promenade version of Buzzing!

The nature reserve at St Nicks is a fabulous place to wander through on a summer’s evening (weather permitting), so who knows what flora and fauna we’ll find there. Indeed, some of its fauna found their way into my Buzzing! book, and I’ll be showing you exactly where I found them and took the photos.

A Cinnabar moth caterpillar that features in my Buzzing! book and that I found and photographed at St Nicks, York

A Cinnabar moth caterpillar that I photographed at St Nicks, York, and that features in my Buzzing! book

The evening starts at 6.30pm with formal St Nicks matters. You can arrive in time for that or come a little later, at around 7pm, when the promenade will begin.

Either way, the evening’s events are free, and will be followed by a (discounted!) Buzzing! book signing session at the end of the promenade, with 20% of the price going to St Nicks.

St Nicks is just off Melrosegate in York. You can find directions here.

I’ve performed lots of Buzzing! shows for grown-ups before, but I’ve never done a promenade version, so this will be a world first! I do hope you can come and join us.

(P.S. Older children are welcome along too!)

Anneliese Emmans Dean – www.theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

St Nicks – then and now

What a difference 6 months makes!

Last December I was at St Nick’s (aka York Environment Centre) lamenting the demise of the much-loved York Rotters, as you can see below:

Today I was back at St Nicks (now minus apostrophe) for a much more upbeat occasion: a triple celebration!

We were celebrating the relaunch of the 16-year-old charity that is St Nicks (now aka ‘The Green Heart of York’) , celebrating 20 years of turning this former landfill into a wonderful green haven, and celebrating 10 years of its being designated a Local Nature Reserve.

The great and the good turned out for this occasion, and they were introduced by St Nicks Chair Yashpal Anand:

St Nicks Chair Yashpal Anand introducing the speakers at St Nicks, 10 May 2014

St Nicks Chair Yashpal Anand introducing the speakers at St Nicks, 10 May 2014

Speeches were given by the MP for York Central, Hugh Bayley:

Hugh Bayley MP speaking at St Nicks, 10.5.14

Hugh Bayley MP speaking at St Nicks, 10 May 2014

by the Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Julie Gunnell:

Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Julie Gunnell, speaking at St Nicks, 10.5.14

Lord Mayor of York, Cllr Julie Gunnell, speaking at St Nicks, 10 May 2014

by the Chief Officer of St Nicks, Tom Waring:

St Nicks' Chief Officer Tom Waring gives his speech

St Nicks’ Chief Officer Tom Waring gives his speech, 10 May 2014

Oh, and by yours truly – in my role as a newly appointed Patron, no less:

St Nicks Patron Anneliese Emmans Dean gives a speech at St Nicks, 10.5.14

Giving my first speech as a Patron of St Nicks, 10 May 2014

I was ably assisted in my speech-giving by Bethany who, at the crucial moment, provided the ‘Ta Daa!’ moment, by unfurling (what we boldy claim to be) the world’s longest apple poem, written by visitors to St Nicks on Apple Day 2011:

Bethany unfurls The World's Longest Apple Poem, written by visitors to St Nicks' Apple Day 2011

Bethany unfurls The World’s Longest Apple Poem, written by visitors to St Nicks’ Apple Day 2011

I read out a portion of this poem at the end of my speech, as it – inadvertently – encapsulates the history of St Nicks, from a forgotten seed in a desolate landscape, to a richly biodiverse community hub.

(from left) The Lord Mayor of York, me, Hugh Bayley MP, and Tom Waring admiring (what could be) the world's longest apple poem

(from left) The Lord Mayor of York, me, Hugh Bayley MP, and Tom Waring of St Nicks admiring (what could be) the world’s longest apple poem, 10 May 2014

After the speeches came green activities for all ages, including smoothie-making by pedal power:

Making smoothies with pedal power! St Nicks, 10.5.14

Making smoothies with pedal power – as invented by Alfred Chow.  St Nicks, 10.5.14

and a tour of the Nature Reserve, led by my former English teacher Mrs Green. (Now there’s a terrifying thing – giving a speech with your former English teacher present!)

Mrs Green leads a tour of St Nicks, 10.5.14

Mrs Green leads a tour of St Nicks, 10 May 2014

If you haven’t been to St Nicks yet, then I thoroughly recommend it. It will recharge you, body and soul. Today the chiffchaffs were singing, the newts were swimming in the pond, and there was delicious home-made cake to eat. What more could you ask for?

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz.biz – Bringing poetry to life

The very last Buzzing! photo

Time has been running out! My Buzzing! book – to be published in Spring 2012 – will include over 170 close-up photos of garden minibeasts. It’s taken me 8 years to take all the photos in the book, most of them in my small garden in York. But I’ve been two photos short!

Since I handed the manuscript to the publisher (Brambleby Books), I’ve been on a hunt for the last two photos for the book: a honeybee hive, and a wasps’ nest.

In October, friends of mine let me take photos of their hive – as you can see here. So that just left me with a wasps’ nest to locate and photograph.

I put out an SOS on Twitter and Facebook and was thrilled to get replies from two local organisations that each had a wasps’ nest I could photograph.

First of all I went off to York Environment Centre/St Nicholas Fields, where I often put on shows and workshops (like this one and this one), to take a photo of their wasps’ nest:

Anneliese holding the St Nicholas Fields' wasps' nest, Winter 2011

Anneliese holding the St Nicholas Fields’ wasps’ nest, Winter 2011

A few days later I went  round the corner to the University of York, where the good people of OPAL had another wasps’ nest for me to photograph:

Anneliese with OPAL's wasps' nest, Winter 2011

Anneliese with OPAL’s wasps’ nest, Winter 2011

I took lots and lots of photos of each of these nests. Then – after much agonising – I chose one photo to send to the publishers. Just in time!

Which nest did I choose to include in the book? Well, you’ll have to have a look and see!

Anneliese's Buzzing! book

Anneliese’s Buzzing! book

Many thanks to Ivana at St Nick’s, to Sarah at OPAL and to Andreas at the University of York for their assistance in this important photographic mission!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – info@theBigBuzz.bizwww.theBigBuzz.biz

Bringing poetry to life