Joseph Coelho to “celebrate the power of poetry” in role as Waterstones Children’s Laureate

Performance poet, playwright and children’s author Joseph Coelho will “highlight and celebrate the power of poetry” in his role as the new Waterstones Children’s Laureate.

Joseph Coelho was presented with the Laureate medal by outgoing Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Dame Cressida Cowell, at a ceremony held in London.

His acclaimed works include his Luna Loves… picture books, his dark series of Fairy Tales Gone Bad, which are reimaginings of the classics, and his young adult novel The Girl Who Became A Tree.

Joseph Coelho, whose tenure as Children’s Laureate runs from 2022-2024, said: “Poetry is powerful, it is the medium we turn to at weddings, funerals and new births because it goes beyond mere words – poetry translates the soul. I want to use the prestigious platform of the Waterstones Children’s Laureate to highlight and celebrate the power of poetry.

“To invite the nation, young and old, to write poems, to become poets. I want to ensure that every child has the opportunity to see themselves in books and as bookmakers through the plethora of new and exciting voices we have coming out of the UK – to diversify bookshelves so that every child can imagine themselves as writers, illustrators and poets.

“And, finally I want to hug every library, these miraculous institutions where new horizons line the shelves, where minds go to grow. Libraries made me a writer and make communities thrive – I wish to champion the services of these essential launchpads of learning.”

The author, who grew up in Roehampton, started writing poetry in secondary school and went on to study archaeology at university.

On being named the Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho added: “I’m trying to connect with and heal my younger self – a self unable to imagine a future writing and publishing books.

“Through this work, through the young people and families I am lucky enough to interact with, I’m trying to reach down through time and tell little Joe, ‘You can write, you can be a writer, your voice is valid your words are waiting to be heard.’

“Because I know that when the youth of today hear that message, he’ll hear it too.”

Joseph Coelho’s debut poetry collection, Werewolf Club Rules, was published in 2014 and won the CLPE CLiPPA Poetry Award the following year, while his works have included a range of lyrical children’s stories and poetry collections like Overheard In A Tower Block, If All the World Were… and Poems Aloud.

During his time as the 12th Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Coelho will also “showcase new authors and illustrators to diversify bookshelves and inspire bookmakers of the future, and champion public libraries and the role they play in communities.”

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s ChiefShe writes about entertainments and storytelling of all kinds.

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