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Creativity specialist Joel McKerrow is an award-winning author, speaker, educator, and is one of Australia’s most successful and experienced performance poets. For fifteen years full-time he has toured on stages throughout world, including representing Australia at the Individual World Poetry Slam Championships. With seven poetry albums and six poetry books, as well as his first junior-fiction/Graphic novel being published in March 2024 (Urban Legend Hunters: The Dreaded Mr Snipe), Joel brings a wealth of creative experience in both poetry and story-writing sure to inspire and equip your students.
On Dharawal Country, at Wollongong hospital in NSW.
I started out pushing trolleys across uneven carparks as a teenager, but then spent many years as a youth worker and then university lecturer focused on youth work and the worldview formation of Young People.
A lot of my poetry work revolves around the intersection of creativity and self-growth. I tend to write a lot of inspirational pieces that came out of times in my own journey when I needed to be inspired and hence transfer into inspiring others in their journey. I also write a lot about social issues and our place within this world.
My fiction writing tends to do the same, but in a very different way. I love writing humorous stories that make us think about how we see each other and our own lives. At their surface they might be about monster-hunting or aliens. But thematically they reveal how we make monsters out of that which we don’t understand.
There is nothing much better than performing poetry, backed by musicians, to thousands upon thousands of people at events all over the world. So some of my highlights would be festivals in The Netherlands and in the UK and venues like the Sydney Opera House, the Atheneum and Forum theatres, the Metropolis in Montreal, the Nuyorican and Bowery in New York City and representing Australia at the Individual World Poetry Slam Championships in the US.
One of my all-time highlights was Keynote speaking and performing at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Centre
on the STORY GATHERING stage alongside Krista Monson (Cirque Du Soleil Artistic Director) and Linda Woolverton (Disney writer of the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Maleficent).
One of my highlights has also been the amount of literary festivals I have been invited to speak/perform at. Festivals like Somerset Storyfest, Little Scribe, Once Upon A Festival, Storyfest OutWest, Whitsunday Youth Voices, Emerging Writers Festival, Write Around the Murray, Cairns Tropical Writers Festival, Capricorn Coast Writers Festival and many more.
I have been a performance poet for a long time but have also been working on FICTION writing A LOT the last five years and so to get my first publishing contract for URBAN LEGEND HUNTERS with Larrikin House publishers has also been a massive highlight!
However, more significant than all that, would be that I have got to teach the creative process to over 70 000 students throughout the world and seeing so many of them come alive in their 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 stunned class and equally stunned teachers.
Larrikin House, Mindfood Magazine, Going Down Swinging Literary Journal, Acorn Press, UNOH Publications, The Poatina Tree Publishing, Relevant Magazine, Soul-Tread magazine.
I love seeing words and creativity change lives. There is nothing I am more passionate about than this. I have had the honor of coming alongside tens of thousands of young people in their journey and seen them transform simply through the power of naming their own story and creating something out of that story.
You may not have seen me, but here is where you can see/hear me now…
– This live video of my poetry called WELCOME HOME.
– THIS poem in collaboration with an amazing children’s disability crew.
– This TEDX talk.
– This plea to take care of our earth called ONE PLANET
– This is my SPOTIFY for you to listen to.
Joel McKerrow’s visit to our school today was absolutely fantastic – the students were enthused, entertained and engaged. They went away inspired to write poems. Joel performed some poetry, which put the kids at ease, showed them how poetry can grow from an idea, and brought in some humour. He then guided the students through some workshop writing exercises. One of those students had not written a poem in two weeks of class workshops and today he not only wrote one, he volunteered to read it out.
“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.”
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.
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!
“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.”
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.
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.