"Joel McKerrow reminds us why unplugged MC bards are as rock-n-roll in their art as any guitar band."
Writer – Performance Poet – Speaker – Educator - Artist
Based out of Melbourne, Australia, Joel McKerrow is an award winning writer, speaker, educator, artist, creativity specialist and, having performed for hundreds of thousands of people throughout the world, is one of Australia’s most successful internationally touring, performance poets. Full-time in his creative career for the past twelve years Joel is currently the Artist Ambassador for the aid and development organisation ‘TEARFUND Australia’, is on teaching staff at the Melbourne Young Writers Studio, is the co-founder/host of the The Deep Place: On Creativity and Spirituality Podcast and is a speaker with with BOOKEDOUT speaker agency.
Joel was the third ever Australian representative at the Individual World Poetry Slam Championships in the USA as well the co-founder of community arts organisation, 'The Centre for Poetics and Justice' (2010-2013) and the host of the Australian National Poetry Slam for the State of Victoria (2017-2019). He is a highly sought after speaker/performer at conferences and festivals all over the world including: Story Gathering Conference (Nashville), ITEC (International Transforming Education Conference), The Emerging Writer's Festival, The Justice Conference (AUS, US and NZ), Carey Literature Festival, Williamstown Literary Festival, Christian Education National Conference, The Global Health Summit, Anglican Schools Australia Conference, Somerset Storyfest, Amnesty International Conference, Greenbelt festival (UK), Graceland Festival (Netherlands), and many more.
Joel is passionate about schools work and over the last twelve years has taught poetry and the creative process to over 60,000 students in schools all over the world. In publishing Joel has released four music/spoken word albums, three published books of poetry and one creative non-fiction manuscript focussed on his journey of discovering his own entitlement within the world. He has had his work featured in such publications as: Mindfood Magazine, Relevant Magazine, Going Down Swinging Literary Journal, Soul-tread magazine, Spirituality for Youth Work (Cambridge Scholars Press), Australian Stories for the Soul (Strand Publishing), Gestalt Arts and Culture Journal, New Urban World Journal, and many more.
For the last fifteen years I have worked within the creative industries as a writer, speaker, performer, educator, poet, photographer, film-maker, actor, artist and a whole host of other things. Over this time creativity has become the passion of my life. Why? Let me tell you a story...
Dear girl in the audience,
I want you to know that I saw them. The tears. They fell silent and I held them. Let them gather and pool in my palms. A gift. And I do not know when they began but I do know how tears can feel like redemption and how tears taste like ocean and how they are always the very thing that needed to happen but you do not realise it until they are falling. So splash me with them. Don’t hide away as if you are scared I might reject such emotion, such a naked sharing. You have given me more than I can possibly contain in the largest part of me. I rejoice with you.
There is a way that somebody may stand up here on this stage and give of themselves until they feel small. I know this. I have done this. Too many times. Too many times lost, not present, not here, not now. But now, and here, we two know this moment. It wraps around us. A slow wind. The words now spoken once written on my page by a calloused hand and a broken pencil and all the doubts and fears that accompany the creative pursuit of just the right way to express this. You hear this. These words and I am awed at the sense of meaning found in the connection of a stranger. Your story you find in my own and suddenly we aren’t so lonely any more. Suddenly performer and audience is not the right classification. Suddenly you are crying. Suddenly open. Suddenly the unresolved finds its weave. Suddenly the space between us has crumbled.
It was you that started my own crying. It was you that brought my own healing. Your tears. They spoke so poetic into all I needed to hear.
I just wanted you to know that I saw them.
What the People Have to Say
“The old windows are not letting in much light. Nor do they allow people to look out, through and beyond. We see it everywhere: in the cynicism of politics, the machinery of the
market, the intransigence of religion passing for faith, and the ravaged quality of so many human lives. Light is not getting through. We have always waited and asked for better windows, a truer lens, some ways to see the brightness and goodness that we somehow know is there. It is to this deeper, already knowing, that Joel McKerrow appeals. He draws us through a much better window.”
~ Father Richard Rohr, The Centre for Action and Contemplation ~
Joel McKerrow is one of those people you discover and know you need to hold onto forever. He is a masterful wordsmith, a transfixing performer, and is one who’s words flow out of all that is in his heart. His passion for people and for the brokenness of
this world to be restored is evident through his advocacy and his solidarity. He inspires us through his poetry to care for humanity and to seek out the flourishing of all. I am excited for the rest of the world to discover Joel McKerrow.
~ Vickie Reddy- Executive Producer, The JUSTICE Conference ~
With words we all can use Joel McKerrow takes the moments around him and paints them with purpose and gives us all a chance to feel what he's talking about. It's a rare thing in any time when an artist can embody such a depth of knowledge but also be able to translate his thoughts and ideas in such a way that everyone can see.
~ Dan Smith from LISTENER ~
Joel McKerrow does what poets should do ... makes you laugh, think, cry, pray, hope, worship, wonder, and sit back and say, "Ahh, now I see!" In a time when politics, theology, and other important avenues of human intercourse suffer from a flatness of prose and a vacuum of meaning,
Joel walks on stage just when we need him, sounding off with all the craft of a first-rate poet and all the verve of a first-rate performer.
~ Brian McLaren, author/speaker/activist ~
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. Joel's writing reveals a wisdom beyond his years and his devotion to his work and to the greater good of all of humanity shines unwaveringly.
~ Luka Lesson ~ Australian National Slam Champion
‘Joel McKerrow is not just some redhead... he's just some redhead who happens to be an exceptional spoken word artist. Fiercely political and humane... the fact that he's a redhead is inconsequential. He's a redhead.’
~ Shane Koyczan- Canadian poet ~
Father Richard Rohr
The Centre for Action and Contemplation
“The old windows are not letting in much light. Nor do they allow people to look out, through and beyond. We see it everywhere: in the cynicism of politics, the machinery of the market, the intransigence of religion passing for faith, and the ravaged quality of so many human lives. Light is not getting through. We have always waited and asked for better windows, a truer lens, some ways to see the brightness and goodness that we somehow know is there. It is to this deeper, already knowing, that Joel McKerrow appeals. He draws us through a much better window.”
"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 ~