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Longlisted for the 2018 Carnegie Award

Shortlisted for 2018 CLIPPA CLPE Poetry Award

Longlisted for the 2019 UKLA Book Award

Gazing at the stars from five storeys up, smelling the bins from five storeys below. Overheard arguments, overheard laughter. A disappearing father and a Mermaid-Queen mother; statues that sing for flesh and blood; bullies who kick you under the table; perfect red trainers – and the things that lurk in the library… Award-winning poet Joseph Coelho’s astonishing new collection is a powerful and moving poetic narrative about growing up in the city.

  • Age Range: 9 years and up
  • Publisher: Otter-Barry Books Ltd (Out now!)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1910959588
  • ISBN-13: 978-1910959589


Books For Keeps

“Joseph Coelho’s poems in this his second collection, are not comfortable. They are sharp, disconcerting, intelligent. They are also quite often humorous. They pinpoint experiences, emotions, the immediate, as he charts living in this world.”


“Recounting the childhood of a child living in a city tower block, many of these poems are sad or angry and bristle with an edginess that young teens may find refreshing when compared to other poetry aimed at them.”

The Times

“These poems, although often sad, are ingenious. He reworks the myth of Prometheus, plays with homophones and rings the changes of the words at the ends of lines. It feels personal but also resonates.”

Reading Zone

“Every poem in this anthology gives the reader pause for thought: whether it’s an idea to contemplate; an image that lingers or word play that delights, Coelho’s touch is totally assured.”

Awfully Big Reviews

“Like any great poetry collection, Coelho’s Overheard in a Tower Block takes the reader on multiple journeys through multiple emotions. Some are playful, whilst many others are thoughtful, powerful and demand that you pause. Stop. And think.”


“An extraordinarily powerful and moving book.  Each poem offers us glimpses into the life of the main character as he grows, over the course of the collection, from young boy through adolescence to adulthood.  The ingenious threading of fantasy, story, myth and magic throughout the poems only illuminates further the challenges and hardships of this young man’s life, but ultimately concludes in moments of optimism, joy and possibility.”


“Each poem offers a childlike vantage point, but collated together there are profound comments about the nature of late childhood, its shift towards adulthood and responsibility and the continuing role it is able to play in determining and defining our lives.”

Literacy with Miss P

When I first read Overheard in a Tower Block by Joseph Coelho, I absolutely fell in love with it. I have since read it over and over again and feel it is full of poems that you gain more from each time you read them. It is a beautifully-written poetry collection that tells the story of a young boy whose parents split up and it came as no surprise to learn that it was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal 2018.

Joseph Coelho

Overheard in a Tower BlockCoelho’s newest poetry collection, was longlisted for the 2018 Carnegie Medal. Arguing parents become electrical forces or duelling knights; the bin-chute mouth of a block is fed the stuff of its residents’ lives. Rich with metaphor and secret meaning, his poetry is deeply welcoming, and his sensibility is both mythic and urban; his freed Prometheus, unearthed from “eons of eagle droppings”, hears “the god-whisper of a city, the electric thrum of buildings, the digital hiss of a new world.”