York Culture Awards

I’m very proud to announce that my book Flying High! Discover the poetry in British birds has been shortlisted for the York Culture Awards 2017 in the ‘Excellence in Writing’ category.

The York Culture Awards ‘celebrate excellence in the arts and culture sector and reward outstanding innovation, creativity and quality …’ And looking through the list of finalists makes you realise just what a vibrant arts and culture scene we have here in York. Many talented people! It’s a privilege to be among their number.

The York Culture Awards’ aim is: ‘by showcasing the city’s cultural uniqueness and diversity … to ultimately make culture more accessible to everyone and to encourage more people to take part.’

Amen to that!

I’m looking forward to meeting the other finalists at the award ceremony, which takes place in York Minster next month.

Meanwhile, thank you to everyone involved in the publication of my Flying High! book.

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

 

Advertisements

Bumblebee Conservation Trust AGM 2017

The last time I saw Gill Perkins was in 2012. We were attending the launch of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s Bees for Everyone campaign in London. Gill had organised the launch. I had been commissioned to perform at it.

With Gill Perkins, who organised the London launch of Bees for Everyone

With Gill Perkins, who organised the London launch of the BBCT’s Bees for Everyone

Fast forward five years, and Gill is now the Head Honcho of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, which this year held its AGM in my home town of York. Gill was Head Honcho-ing the AGM, and I was performing at it. So our paths crossed again.

With Gil Perkins, BBCT CEO, at the BBCT 2017 AGM in York

With Gill Perkins, BBCT CEO, at the BBCT 2017 AGM in York

What I take from these two encounters (apart from the fact that my hair has grown more than hers in the interim) is that wardrobe-wise, Gill and I seem to have an uncanny knack of choosing similar colours/degrees of stripy-ness for BBCT events.

More importantly, what I take from these two encounters is how wonderful Gill, and all the BBCT staff, are. If you’re not already a member of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, then why not?! Join here and now! They are a fabulous organisation doing vital work – innovatively and with passion. And they are small enough for individuals (both staff and members) to matter and count. Something that was very evident at the AGM.

Now perhaps your heart leaps at the prospect of attending an AGM, but when I think ‘AGM’, the first words that come to my mind are: ‘dull as dishwater’. What I hadn’t realised is that the BBCT AGM is actually more of a Members’ Day, packed with fascinating talks about BBCT research and projects. Oh, and this year, a performance from yours truly too.

On the one hand, the decline in bumblebee numbers – as outlined/alluded to/quantified by speaker after speaker – is deeply depressing and worrying. But on the other hand, the work the BBCT is doing to try to remedy this, with farmers/landowners, school children, members of the public and policymakers, is very inspiring. I was particularly taken with their ‘polli:lab’ project, which will take bumblebee science into secondary schools. I wish a polli:lab had visited my school when I was a lass!

Speakers at the event were: Prof. Pete Hollingsworth, Gill Perkins, Dr Richard Comont, Sally Cuckney (doing fabulous work Pollinating the Peak), Helen Dickinson, Dr Kate Ashbrook, Sinead Lynch, Lucy Witter, Hope Moran, Steven Falk, Judith Conroy (check out their fabulous Blooms for Bees app) and Stuart Roberts. Particularly inspiring were the young student speakers. Hope for the future!

Whether I was inspiring or not is not for me to say. However, I can say that my poetic interlude provided a slight change in tone. Here’s a snippet of what I got up to:

That poem is from my Buzzing! book, that the Bumblebee Conservation Trust wrote the Foreword to. As is this poem, too (though replace the word ‘hive’ with ‘nest’ – a slip of the tongue in the heat of the moment):

Thank you to award-winning BBCT volunteer Dylan for manning my camcorder for these clips. And to Gill for joining in the show.

So, go forth and join the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (who, incidentally, wrote the Foreword to my book Buzzing!) They are doing vitally important work – and they want you to join in with it. Your life will be enriched as a result!

Oh, and if you’d like me to come and perform at your AGM (I have form when it comes to AGMs …) or other event, then just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

Book signings galore!

Here’s a wee round-up of my August book signings, following the publication of my Flying High! bird book this summer.

So, we start in Waterstones in York, where The Nest Test was first put into action (see middle photo below):

Book signing at Waterstones, York, 5 August 2017

Book signing at Waterstones, York, 5 August 2017

One of the highlights of this signing was the completely unexpected appearance of Marcus – yes, the very Marcus after whom the Marcus poem on p. 148 of Buzzing! was named. (You can see Marcus-the-person holding Buzzing! up at said Marcus-the-ladybird’s page in the left-hand photo above.)

Moving on, then, to Wardle & Jones bookshop in Scarborough:

Book signing at Wardle & Jones bookshop in Scarborough, 19 August 2017

Book signing at Wardle & Jones bookshop in Scarborough, 19 August 2017

One of the undoubted highlights of this book signing was Mabel, the Wardle and Jones dog! (Seen here in the arms of Wardle & Jones store owner Rachel.)

And then on to the UK’s City of Culture, where you are met off the train by a poet (one Philip Larkin), and where I was book signing in Waterstones:

Booksigning in Waterstones in Hull, the UK City of Culture

Book signing in Waterstones in Hull, the UK City of Culture, 26 August 2017

One of the highlights of this book signing was stroking a little girl’s imaginary hamster. (And a softer, sweeter hamster you never did come across!) Another highlight was selling more books than JK Rowling! (I can say this with confidence as I was sitting right in front of the Harry Potter shelves.)

What all three of these signings had in common was the joy that performing my poems to and with so many children gave me. Watching their faces light up during the poems was priceless. Particularly special was when children performed poems from the book to me. It’s a thrilling experience to watch and listen to your words being lifted off the page by a child.

So, the next book signing is … well, it’s not in a bookshop, but it’s part of York’s Heritage Open Days. I’ve been invited to spend the morning of Saturday 9 September at the historic Unitarian Chapel in St Saviourgate in York – the theme of the day being ‘Aspects of the Garden’. I’ll be there from 11(-ish). See you there!

Thank you to all three of these bookshops for hosting me. If you fancy a book signing in your bookshop, or in a bookshop near you, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life

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

Terrific Technologies at St Anthony’s Primary School

It was Terrific Technologies week at St Anthony’s Catholic Primary School in Leeds last week, and I went along one afternoon to teach Year 4 how to take photos using my BigBuzz Photography Technique and my digital cameras. The children caught on fast. Very fast! Take a look at some of the terrific photos they took in their school grounds:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It’s amazing what you can find on a cold, grey afternoon in February when you’re being observant, isn’t it?

What did the children think of the workshop? Well, more than one came up to me and said they now wanted to be a photographer when they grew up!

And what did form teacher Miss McGuire think about it all?

‘Thanks so much for the fabulous workshop. The children really loved it and I was so impressed by the quality of the photos they took!’

I was really impressed too! Congratulations to Year 4 for learning to use the terrific technology that is the digital camera so fast and so well. It’s a skill for life. Who knows where it will lead them?

If you’d like a BigBuzz photography workshop in your school, and you’re within an hour of York, then just get in touch.

And you can find out more about my photography workshops here and here .

Anneliese Emmans Dean – theBigBuzz

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Performing at Le Moulin Rouge

Well, I never thought when I started up theBigBuzz back in 2007 that I would end up performing at Le Moulin Rouge in the company of Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Ant and Dec. But that’s exactly what happened this Yorkshire Day (= 1st August, for the uninitiated!)

Perhaps I need to unpack that a little. Le Moulin Rouge in question was a fantastic Spiegeltent temporarily erected in the centre of my home town York, as part of The Great Yorkshire Fringe Festival.

Le Moulin Rouge (The York spiegeltent version!)

Le Moulin Rouge (The York spiegeltent version!)

And Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Ant and Dec were in fact present in the guise of face masks only, aka local volunteers judging the Yorkshire’s Got Talent portion of the day’s events. (And boy, has Yorkshire ever got talent! The contestants all sang amazingly!)

Simon Cowell (almost)

Simon Cowell (almost)

What was the day? Well, it was the family part of the Yorkshire Day Festival, a whole day and night’s worth of acts performing to raise money for the Lord Mayor’s charities, one of which is St Nicks (of which I am a Patron).

It was fabulous to watch so many other talented acts over the course of the day – and in such an amazing performance space.

Ukelele Sunshine Revival performing in Le Moulin Rouge

Ukelele Sunshine Revival performing in Le Moulin Rouge

My contribution to the day was an edu-taining ‘Birds and the Bees’ poetry show. I’m pleased to say the feedback was great – including this on the day:

‘The Birds and The Bees act was very good. My granddaughter loved it and was up on stage holding up drawings. Very good day indeed.’

and this from @FamiliesYork on Twitter:

‘Loved it. Anneliese was amazing of on

Can’t ask for more than that!

I hope that much money was raised for the Lord Mayor’s charities. And that the families who came along were inspired by my portion of the day to do plenty of minibeast hunting and birding over the summer holidays.

Thank you to the friendly and professional crew at the venue who were a great help to us all. And to Emma Courtney of The Social Octopus and Kellie Taylor for organising the event.

The Moulin Rouge crew in action

The Moulin Rouge crew in action

If you’d like some ‘amazing’ eco-edutainment at your event, just get in touch!

Anneliese Emmans Dean theBigBuzz – Bringing poetry to life