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British poet and author

Profession: Poet



Joseph Coelho is a British poet and children's book author who was elected Children's Laureate in 2022.


Coelho started performing poetry with performance poetry organisation Apples and Snakes in 2002, performing on the London Poetry Scene. Coelho has a long history in theatre both on stage and behind the scenes, which begun as a youth at Group 64 in Putney. After University Coelho worked with many companies behind the scenes including, The Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, The Unicorn Theatre, Half Moon Theatre, Talawa Theatre Company, Oily Cart, and Theatre Centre.

Coelho is also a playwright and has written plays for the following companies:

  • Wordpepper Theatre / Half Moon Theatre: Pop-Up Flashback and The PoetryJoe Show
  • Polka Theatre: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, co-written with Jonathon Lloyd
  • Half Moon Theatre: Fairytales Gone Bad: Grannylocks / The Monstrous Duckling
  • Half Moon Theatre: Fairytales Gone Bad: Zombie-rella / Blood Red Hood
  • Unicorn Theatre: Bye Bye Planet Earth
  • Islington Community Theatre: Chicken Shop
  • The Spark Childrens Festival: Tree Child
  • Pied Piper Theatre Company: Robin's Winter Adventure, co-critten with Tina Williams
  • The Little Angel Theatre: The Wishing Tree
  • Tutti Frutti Productions: Jack Frost and The Search For Winter

Before being published, Coelho worked extensively in schools engaging young people with literacy through the medium of poetry running session through Performance Poetry Organisation Apples and Snakes, The Poetry Society, Creative Partnerships. Coelho often runs CPD sessions with teachers sharing ways to engage young people with poetry.

At the London Book Fair in 201,2 Coelho met Janetta Otter-Barry, the founder of Otter-Barry books. This interaction launched Coelho's career as an author and published poet. In 2014 Coelho published Werewolf Club Rules,[8] a poetry anthology which was awarded the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award. Coelho's second independent collection, Overheard in a Tower Block, was shortlisted for the Centre for Literacy in Primary Poetry Award in 2018. Coelho has written over 20 books for young people spanning picture books, middle-grade and YA. Coelho's debut picture book Luna Loves Library day with Fiona Lumbers was nominated for the 2018 Kate Greenaway Medal and Chosen as one of the Nation’s top 25 stories to share by World Book Day UK. Coelho's debut YA verse novel, The Girl Who Became A Tree was shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal and received a Special Mention for the 2021 Bologna Ragazzi Poetry Award.

Coelho is a children's author and poet who is committed to making the reading and writing of poetry accessible to all. As part of these efforts, in 2018 he created resources for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 students on understanding poetry. The resources included a series of videos explaining the different formats of poetry, how to perform poetry and how to interpret poetry.

In 2022 Coelho was appointed the Children's Laureate. He has said that poetry was often what people turned to in times of need, “because we instinctively know, deep down in our core, that poetry transcends”. He looks to improve diversity amongst the authors and illustrators on UK bookshelves. As part of his tenure as Children's Laureate he will focus on various different projects, Poetry Prompts, Bookmaker Like You and the Library Marathon. He launched Poetry Prompts, a set of online writing activities to inspire people to write their own poetry. Additionally, he started a programme called Bookmaker Like You, which celebrates the authors, illustrators and publishers who underpin book creation. As part of the Library Marathon Coelho will visit a library in every local authority across the United Kingdom.

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