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Joel McKerrow

Author, Entertainment, Inspirational Speaker, Personal Development, Poet, Social Issues, Storyteller/Performer

Joel McKerrow is an award-winning author, speaker, educator. He was the third Australian to participate in the Individual World Poetry Slam Championships, and having toured extensively in Australia, USA, Canada and the United Kingdom he is one of Australia’s most successful and experienced performance poets. His sessions on POETRY, STORY and THE CREATIVE PROCESS are thoroughly engaging and inspiring and can be adapted for a range of contexts.

Where were you born?

On Dharawal Country, at Wollongong hospital in NSW.

What other jobs have you had?

I started out pushing trolleys across uneven carparks, but have also spent many years as a youth pastor, book-seller, youth worker and university lecturer.

What themes are recurring in your work?

It would be fair to say a lot of my work is at once introspective, and filled with dreaming. Most common themes are the way we see ourselves; the way we see others; who we have become; the unresolved inside; who we could be; what we choose to ignore; what aches inside us; what sets us on fire; what stories are untold; the change creativity might bring to this world; the power of story.

What have been the highlights of your career?

I’ve loved performing poetry in some iconic and inspiring venues, highlights would be Sydney Opera House, the Atheneum and Forum theatres, the Metropolis in Montreal, the Nuyorican and Bowery in NYC, Busboys and Poets in DC, The GreenMill in Chicago. It’s an honor to present in incredible spaces like these across the world.

However, more significant, would be the teaching the creative process to over 60 000 students from a range of nations, and seeing so many of them come alive to creativity. A treasured memory is the bullied autistic boy who had never shared anything in class ever, but stood up after a week of workshops and shared an entire poem about himself and his autism to a very stunned class.

Competing at the INDIVIDUAL WORLD POETRY SLAM CHAMPIONSHIPS was also a highlight, particularly as it came at a time when the Australia spoken word scene was just finding it’s voice and brining a different rhythm to what had been a predominately North American flavor.

Moments when I can use people’s words to craft for them personalised poetry of their stories they can treasure, like brave women experiencing crisis-pregnancy and some incredibly strong people living in poverty.

Where have your works been published?

Mindfood Magazine, Going Down Swinging Literary Journal, Acorn Press, UNOH Publications, The Poatina Tree Publishing, Relevant Magazine, Soul-Tread magazine.

What are you passionate about?

I love seeing words change lives, literacy literally change lives. I have come alongside thousands of young people and seen them transform simply through the power of naming their own story and creating something out of that story. There is nothing I am more passionate about than this.

Visit Joel’s Spotify here.



“Joel is a powerful presence in any room. He makes each individual feel seen, valued, and connected to a deeper place. His poetry is booming, spectacular; but his message even more. He is in the uppermost tier of speakers I’ve worked with, so much so that I hired him again, and again.”

—Brooke Shaden – Founder, Promoting Passion Conference

Joel McKerrow’s visit to Heatherton was a brilliant incursion.  The workshops for my English classes were interactive and great fun, spread across Years 7 to 9.  Poetry as old and boring was thrown out the window as students were spellbound listening to poetry delivered in such a modern and compelling way in Joel’s performances.  The techniques they learned with Joel were then used to create interesting and vibrant pieces of their own.  Joel is a great resource and we will be looking to repeat his incursion next year.

—Pam Sanderson – Heatherton Christian College

Joel has a warm, friendly and fun nature (that’s just a little bit cheeky) which engages students and makes poetry ‘real’, modern and relevant to a teenage audience. Joel makes poetry come alive through his large group presentations and small group workshops where he discusses what inspires him; how he writes; includes performances of his poetry; and, best of all – he gets students writing poetry!

—Marissa Joyce - Head of English- Sienna College

“It was a fantastic experience for our students…every student in the room was enthralled and often deeply moved. Joel opened the students’ eyes to the world of spoken word poetry and helped to facilitate a shift in how they perceived poetry. Students left feeling inspired and with an awakened desire to engage with poetry writing of their own.”

—English Teacher- Mount Evelyn Christian School

Joel is a master craftsman with words, able to tell stories through his poems to entertain any audience, making them laugh, imagine, wonder, and think. Joel engages with secondary students well, leading students to laugh at the quirkiness of life, while moving them to think deeply about the many social justice issues they and others around the world face each day.In his poetry writing workshops for students and teachers, Joel engages with participants in creative and practical ways, encouraging them to explore and apply various writing tools to make their own poems come alive. Joel is a skilled communicator and I highly recommend him as a keynote presenter.

—Dr Fiona Partridge- CEN Executive Officer

Joel McKerrow is a true leader in Australia’s performance poetry scene…A man who can tear a roof down with his performances and bring tears with his subtle eloquence.

—Luka Lesson- Poet

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