Poetry Centre

Andrew Lack and Aneurin Rees

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    Dr Andrew Lack, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Biology at Oxford Brookes University, specialises in the area of plant reproductive ecology and genetics, especially pollination, tropical rainforest ecology, and the history and philosophy of the interaction of humans with the environment. He is the author of Redbreast: The Robin in Life and Literature, published in 2008.

    Andrew writes that:

    [t]he research that I talked about with Aneurin Rees was on pollination of flowers and my studies on plant populations and genetics that resulted. We got onto some of my concerns about the disappearance of bee populations, both bumblebees and honey bees. They are such important animals directly for our welfare, and, of course, because they are a vital part of the country. Imagining a countryside without bees is a terrible thought. This is what inspired Aneurin to write his song based on some of the things I was mentioning about the new insecticides known as neonicotinoids that appear to be doing a great deal of the damage. I have not researched this directly myself.

    I learned from [Aneurin] and much enjoyed talking with [him] and hearing [his] responses. Writing is a large part of my research at present and the thoughts generated are affecting how I write.

    Aneurin Rees graduated with a Music and English degree from Oxford Brookes in 2012, and is currently pursuing postgraduate studies in modernist literature and culture at the University of York. His first singer-songwriter album, available here, draws upon a broad selection of musical and poetical influences, driven by a passion for both art forms. Alongside composing and studying literature, Aneurin enjoys acting, and writing poetry and prose, with a strong belief that influence comes from every direction. For more information on current projects or to contact Aneurin, visit his website.

    Of his collaboration with Andrew Lack, Aneurin writes:

    The writing of, 'Don't Dance This Way' was inspired by the emotional impact of the decline of the Honey Bee and the endless inspiration to be drawn from nature. Dr Andrew Lack's passionate botanical expertise were a great motivation for this. On meeting him, the conversation flowed without plan and invoked some moving ideas. One that stands out is the plant's ability to 'slow down time'; to bring growth with no force. This, in my opinion, resonates perfectly with the nature of songwriting. The collaboration did not just help create the song, but also encouraged me to learn more about the subject myself. The whole experience was very motivational.