Poetry for children is dead. Really? Not when there are young poets like Joseph Coelho. It is probably true that the nature of poetry for children has changed, but that is as it should be. Just as novels for young people today reflect the world they live in, so does their poetry. Humour rather than reflection has become very much the order of the day. However, the poets that stand out are those who combine humour with subtle thought; who play with words.
This is Joseph Coelho’s first collection. Taking the familiar world of the primary school he explores relationships with teachers, the events that make up the school day, the children and the parents in succinct, contemporary verses. Throughout them all runs an awareness of language and a love of words, their colours, their sounds, their playfulness and depths. Deceptively simple, these are poems that really do need to be read out aloud to be fully appreciated; it is perhaps, relevant that Joseph is a performance poet himself. Young readers are already familiar with stars such as McGough, Rosen, Ahlberg and Magee. Let us hope they will become as familiar with Joseph Coelho’s work as he develops.