Peterborough's first Syntax Poetry Festival took place in November 2019, with three five-day residency opportunities for poets and spoken word performers. As one of the three local venues, Nene Park was delighted to welcome its very own poet in residence, Justin Coe.

photo of poet Justin CoeDuring Justin’s residency at Nene Park, the sounds of rhymes, limericks, guitars and kazoos could be heard coming from the Volunteer Hub and Visitor Centre at Ferry Meadows - as visitors, staff and volunteers were encouraged to write poems and songs about the Park. Justin spent five days exploring and wrote a series of new poems inspired by the Park. Take a look at his fabulous poem Nene Park Ranger below. Justin discovered a wealth of talented poets, with several visitors performing their own poetry in the Park. Staff and volunteers also provided a backing chorus for Justin’s performance at The Undercroft in Hampton.

The other residencies took place at  Peterborough Market (Fay Roberts) and the Allama Iqbal Centre in Millfield (Bryony Littlefair). The resident poets' role was to interact, celebrate and record the stories, people and histories of these three important and bustling spaces across Peterborough. 

Justin is a poet, writer and spoken word theatre creator specialising in work for young audiences. He is the author of The Dictionary of Dads (Otter-Barry, 2017) and of ten spoken word theatre shows for families.  His book The Magic of Mums (Otter-Barry) was published in February 2020 and illustrated by the brilliant Steve Wells. Justin is a performance poet and creative writing workshop facilitator with over twenty years experience, bringing his unique mix of puckish poetics and heart-felt humour to thousands of schools, theatres and libraries, not to mention steam trains, street corners and a sitting room made entirely out of newspaper!

Nene Park Ranger – a poem by Justin Coe, November 2020

Nene Park Ranger

Park guest-greeter, wet-leaf-sweeper

Smiley-waver, Land-surveyor,

Speedboat-chaser, river-wader

Phone-call-manager, mud-truck-traveller

Long-grass-strimmer, story-spinner

Knowledge-sharer, welly-wearer

Welly-fisher, walkway-fixer

Lost-pet finder, lost-child minder

Wound-attender, fire-preventor

Wild-life-saver, bird-first aider

Litter-picker, barrier-shifter

Winter-gritter, hot-flask-sipper

Rule-enforcer, risk-reporter

Willow-weaver, duck/goose-feeder

Car-conductor, swan-seductor

Tree-inspector, frog-protector

Cattle-herder, vandal-cursor

Fate-preserver, past-conserver.

Friend to you and friend to nature

Come and meet your Nene Park Ranger

by Justin Coe