I am a poet, writer and performer specialising in creating work for young audiences. 

Author of The Dictionary of Dads and The Magic of Mums (Otter-Barry), I have also written and toured a new spoken word theatre show every year since 2010.

Most recently I have worked with Half Moon Theatre to fuse my skills in poetry writing, storytelling and performance to create and tour three solo spoken word narrative theatre shows and two ensemble shows to venues across the country. Past shows have included Big Wow Small Wonder (about my experience of being the smallest child in class), the OFFIE award nominated Boys Don’t (about boys and expressing emotion, with Papertale Productions), Brighton Fringe Best Children Show nominated The Jumble Book (about dyslexia) and The House That Jackson Built, which focused on themes of loss, environmentalism, libraries and a love of reading. This year, I wrote and performed my interactive show The Gift of The Gadget as part of the Summer Reading Challenge campaigns in libraries.

I love visiting schools and sharing my passion for poetry. Over the last 25 years I have performed and facilitated workshops in hundreds of schools across the country, as well as delivering longer term educational projects with the likes of Creative Partnerships,  The Ministry of Stories, Glyndebourne Opera, Hastings Pier Trust and The National Horse Racing Museum amongst many others.

My most recent book is The Magic of Mums (wonderfully illustrated by Steve Wells and published by Otter-Barry books), a follow-up to the well-received Dictionary of Dads, which is now on its third print.  I have also been published in many children’s poetry anthologies including the award winning “I Bet I Can Make You Laugh” (Bloomsbury), The Jumble Book (Macmillan) and “Recycling Grandad” (A & C Black).

I work flexibly to the requirements of the school/organisation, offering performances across all key stages and workshops with individual classes or selected groups. I have also experience in working with pupils with special needs, spending four years working on Creative Partnership projects with a school for pupils with emotional and behavioral challenges. 

In school and library settings, expect to workshops to be enjoyable and inspiring, and to witness a lively and poignant performance of poetry punctuated with storytelling, comedy, audience participation, the occasional song on the guitar and an outbreak of wild dyspraxic dancing.   

Reviews and Recommendations for ‘Dictionary of Dads’

“Young readers will find themselves wondering about what it means to be a father after reading what is a rather good debut by a writer well-known on the performance circuit for his poetry as well as his spoken word theatre shows for young people. Nice, simple illustrations are by Steve Wells.”

Poetry Zone review Dictionary of Dads

“Dads come in all shapes and sizes: in this, his debut collection, performance poet, Justin Coe introduces a veritable alphabetic assortment… It’s impossible to mention all the dads that feature in this collection but it’s certainly one I’d want to add to any primary class collection, or to a family bookshelf. Steve Wells’ visual pen-and-ink embellishments are numerous – at least one per spread – and add to the individual reader’s enjoyment.”

Red Reading Hub review Dictionary of Dads

“A lot really jump off the page when read aloud, proving the author’s pedigree and training in the school recital that led up to this debut publication. But even from a more published name I might not have been expecting such a successful spread.”

Bookbag reviews Dictionary of Dads

Reviews and Recommendations on Justin’s visits and performances

“The most talented, funny, original and obliging of performance poets.” Hastings Education  Action Zone

“He was fab! …He worked tremendously hard. He did 4 performances which included poetry and songs, answered questions, ran a writing workshop and busked at break-time in order to reach the optimum number of students. We would definitely invite him back and recommend him.” Julie Frew, Teacher, Oxford Community School. 

“Fantastic energy and interactivity” Teacher, Ernest Bevin School

“He made us laugh but also think…he made us show everyone what we can do and how bright we are” Pupil, Year 8

“The poetry is phenomenal. Full of puns and personality….and that’s why everybody should buy a one-way ticket and go” FIVE STARS. on One Way Ticket.

“Jumble wakes up to his own creativity and value despite not being able to read. Jumble is clever at stories, and this is a strong message, well presented. There are moments when it reaches brilliant – poetry, storytelling, and sheer charm emanating from the personal magic of Justin himself.” FOUR STARS. Fringereview The Jumble Book. 

“Justin’s performance was slick and professional, magical and inspirational. The children and dads enjoyed the interactive elements and joined in with great spirit. The poems, raps and songs were diverse and engaging and appealed to a wide age group. Poetry has never been more popular!”  Southend Libraries on a performance of The Dictionary of Dads

Additional details

  • Awards:Nominations for Best Children's Show at Brighton Fringe 2010 (The Jumble Book) and at the OFFIE awards 2018 (Boy's Don't). As a child, joint second in the Pointins Personality Competition (there were three entrants).
  • Organisations:I've delivered workshops for numerous organisations including Creative Partnerships, Glyndebourne Opera, Hastings Pier Trust, The National Horse Racing Museum and many others. I have worked with Half Moon Theatre to create three solo spoken word theatre shows and two ensemble shows, delivering almost 300 performances between 2013 - 2021. I also work as a writing facilitator for The Ministry of Stories and Eastside Education. I have delivered workshops for many schools and local authorities in London, Essex and the south east. Most recently I have been working on facilitating inter-generational projects with primary schools and older people in sheltered housing settings.
  • Genres:Comedy, Fiction, Poetry
  • Maximum number per session:I recommend class-sizes for workshops (approx. 30 children) but can be flexible. The more the merrier for assembly performances.
  • No of sessions per day:Up to 5.
  • Session length:Performance to Key Stage 2 -up to an hour. Performances for Key Stage 1 and 3 (and above) 30 -40 minutes. Workshop Sessions are usually an hour, except for nursery/reception where sessions are usually around 30 minutes. I have also run all day sessions with one class or group of people.
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  • Areas covered:Poetry and Performance Poetry. My performances tend to be energetic, entertaining and humorous with lots of audience participation. However I can also touch on many serious themes. My spoken word shows (that have toured nationally) have addressed issues such as dyslexia (The Jumble Book) being the smallest in class (Big Wow Small Wonder), relationships between parents and their children (Young Herbert's Horrors), loss and the ability to escape through a love of reading ("The House That Jackson Built") and boys and crying ("Boys Don't"). Other shows have looked at science ("The Gift of the Gadget"), nature ("The Wild Wild Word Show"), extraordinary achievements ("The Book of Record Breaking Rhymes") and historical happenings such as the child migration scandal of the 1950's in the co-written ensemble show "One Way Ticket". In my school performances, I perform a variety of poems from these shows and my books, as well as one or two poems about the power of poetry itself. I usually bring my guitar along and do one or two original singalong songs too. In the workshops, I can work around any requested theme, but on a one-day school visit will usually offer a fun workshop with games and exercises that give young people an opportunity to explore poetry writing and performing.
  • Titles include:Books include The Dictionary of Dads (Otter-Barry 2017) and The Magic of Mums (Otter-Barry 2020)

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