Joel McKerrow

Joel McKerrow

Creativity specialist Joel McKerrow is an award-winning writer, children’s 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 in the USA and speaking/performing alongside people like Linda Woolverton (Disney writer of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King), Krista Monson (Cirque De Soleil Creative Director and Ken Black (Nike Creative Director). 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 slam poetry, story-writing and writing for GRAPHIC NOVELS that is sure to inspire and equip your students.

Joel McKerrow LIVE at Graceland Festival (The Netherlands) 


Joel McKerrow LIVE at STORY GATHERING (Nashville) 


Joel McKerrow TEDX UniMelb


1) Poetry For STAGE (Slam Poetry) And PAGE (Written Works)

Throughout fifteen years of teaching poetry in schools I have found the most common immediate response from students regarding poetry is… ‘IT’S BORING’ or ‘IT’S TOO HARD TO WRITE’ or ‘WHAT’S THE POINT OF IT ANYWAY?’ 

In this session, through a humorous and passionate performance and then sharing THE SECRET TO WRITING POETRY, these negative presumptions are quickly smashed apart, paving a way forward for students to engage.

I then lead students through an easy process of how to enter in to the writing of their poetry in an engaging and fun way.

Throughout the session both the performance and the poetry writing activities focus on how young people see themselves and how creativity and writing can help their self perception.

Topics covered

  • Why poetry is way cooler than you thought.
  • Performance of poetry- What makes it interesting and engaging? What poetry/performance tools am I using?
  • Poetry as a way to let air out of the emotional balloon inside.
  • The secret to writing good poetry is allowing yourself to write bad poetry.
  • Poetry writing that begins not with EDITTING but in finding CREATIVE FLOW.
  • The beginning of the Creative Writing Process.


2) AUTHOR TALK (Urban Legend Hunters)

In this session Joel will come at story-writing from the perspective of his new book URBAN LEGEND HUNTERS. How did he smoosh together poetic narration, urban legend spookiness, crazy-characters, adventurous-action, graphic novel style illustration and mass hilarity into ONE coherent story? And, more importantly, how can students begin to do the same? Joel will go through his inspiration for URBAN LEGEND HUNTERS as well as his creative process drawing students in, as he goes, with ideas to write their own fiction story.

Topics covered

  • Inspiration behind URBAN LEGEND HUNTERS
  • Creativity as RISK mixed with DISCIPLINE.
  • Cross-Over Creativity- how mixing things up can bring about the most creative results.
  • The Writing-Process for Urban Legend Hunters (The Story Tree).
  • Where Inspiration comes from.


3) The Poetry Writing Process (Workshop)

This session is all about helping students to not only write poetry, but to love the process of it too. The focus is on simplifying the poetry writing process down to being something that isn’t so tricky.  It begins with a performance of a poem or two and then moves into the creative writing process. 

The movement is on how to start with NOTHING and push past the FOREBODING BLANKNESS OF THE EMPTY PAGE and then develop a piece all the way to being a poem that can be both written and performed.

The workshops focus on Spoken Word as an artistic form that integrates literary and poetic skills with performance and speech tools. 

The session focusses on these four steps to the poetry writing process:

  • - Inspiration
  • - Creation
  • - Construction
  • - Invitation (performance)

The poetic process used enables students to reflect on issues of identity/self-stories and/or social justice/advocacy and focusses on helping students in the understanding of their own story and social existence. This then paves the way for an articulation of their story whilst developing their creative writing and speaking skills.


4) Writing For Graphic Novels

This session can either be a talk or a workshop. Joel will explore writing Graphic Novels from the perspective of his book URBAN LEGEND HUNTERS and the creative process he used to write this story. He will also look at some of the other major successful graphic novels and what makes them great. 

In the talk and the workshop Joel will be setting students up with a simple story-writing framework. But in the workshop version he will be using activities to help students start developing their own graphic novel.

Topics Covered

  • Inspiration behind URBAN LEGEND HUNTERS
  • What makes the graphic-novel genre so good
  • The Writing-Process for Graphic novels- Idea,Character, World, Dialogue, Action, illustration.


5) Story Writing MADE EASY

This session is all about inspiring students in their writing and giving them the tools to make it easier for them. Using his own story-framework, The Story Tree, Joel will break down story-writing into easily graspable elements that students can run with.

He will be using insights from his junior fiction/graphic book URBAN LEGEND HUNTERS as well as his story-based poetry and other fiction work he has crafted to help students write their own stories.

Students are certain to come away from this session inspired, equipped to get into their own writing and with a renewed sense of their potential to write stories.

The steps to this process can be easily transposed upon many different genres of story writing and so this workshop can work well in many different settings.

Topics covered

  • What is it about story that moves us?
  • What stories can you remember and why?
  • The difference between PLOT and STORY.
  • From Outside-In writing to Inside-Out Writing.
  • The inspiration behind URBAN LEGEND HUNTERS.
  • The Story-tree Framework:
    • THEME
    • PLOT


  • 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.

    New Gisbourne Primary School - 2022

    New Gisbourne Primary School - 2022
    Joel McKerrow
  • A poet who can move an audience to hold their breath, to hang on every word, or cause tears to tumble, as the master of words leads you on a journey, at times, in self-discovery. Joel encapsulates everything that Storyfest is. He engages and nourishes both the young and old with his performances and encourages them to discover their own voice.

    Somerset Storyfest

    Somerset Storyfest
    Joel McKerrow
  • 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!

    Sienna College

    Sienna College
    Joel McKerrow
  • Joel McKerrow captivated our students the moment he stepped on the stage at our Literary Festival. Joel’s performances were a mesmerising blend of raw emotion, social commentary, and lyrical prowess; creating an unforgettable experience for our students and transcending any pre-conceived ideas of what poetry is all about. He is a true wordsmith and I wholeheartedly recommend him to anyone seeking to be moved by the magic of spoken word poetry.

    Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival

    Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival
    Joel McKerrow
  • 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.

    Heatherton Christian College

    Heatherton Christian College
    Joel McKerrow


Speaker type

  • Author
  • Poet
  • Storyteller / Performer
  • Motivational
  • Interstate
  • Virtual visits
available for virtual visits
Joel McKerrow