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Books for current Author Talks

Schools Speaking

Joel is a speaker with...


"Can you envision over 2,000 students from across Australia participating in a collaborative Zoom workshop, where they spontaneously rise and applaud after a poetry performance? Inspired and motivated, these students don't just write; they eagerly share and perform their own poetry, delving into the depths of their emotions and life experiences. Joel models the process, making it accessible for students to adopt and make their own. They're so engrossed in their writing that they don't want to put their pens down, and they're undistracted by the world around them, even asking for more time to continue their creative journey. If your school believes that exceptional writing and communication stem from profound connections and inspiration, then inviting Joel to your school will provide a firsthand experience of this transformative process."

(Jenny Atkinson- CEO of Littlescribe)


Both as a performance poet and children's author, Joel has spent the last fifteen years presenting within schools, colleges, libraries and organisations all over the world.

Currently Joel visits over 40 schools/year bringing his passion for poetry, story, writing and creativity. From upper primary to university, from single sessions to month long residencies from juvenile justice centres to small community schools to private schools, Joel is able to connect with students at any level in their writing. He brings a fun, engaging, inspiring, energetic style to his schools work that will be sure to break through even the most frosty of teenage too-cool receptions.

Joel speaks about and teaches both poetry and story-writing within schools.


His talks and workshops that focus on Spoken Word poetry seek to integrate literary and poetic skills with performance and speech tools. The poetic process Joel uses enables students to reflect on issues of identity/self-stories and 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.

In his author talks and Story-Writing sessions Joel looks at STORY development through his book URBAN LEGEND HUNTERS. He takes students through a simple narrative process developed over the years called THE STORY TREE. This covers the major elements of story, but in highly unique ways with simple exercises for students. Joel can also run specific sessions on Graphic Novels, Writing for Graphic Novels, Story and Poetry and Writing Spooky Stories.


Both POETRY and STORY workshops can easily fit into curriculum requirements within English and literature classes and poetry sessions can end with a performance from students that is part of their assessment for a particular unit.

Examples of sessions are below, but Joel is VERY flexible as to what the school is after.

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Somerset College

Geelong College

Waverley Christian College

Northside Christian College

Brighton Grammar

Alphington Grammar

Caulfield Grammar

Xavier College

Mount Evelyn Christian School

Monbulk College

University High

International Academy

Carey grammar

Whitehorse Primary School

Donvale Christian College

Bayswater Secondary College

Heatherton Christian College

Flinders Christian Community College

Dromana College

Caroline Chisolm Catholic College

Box hill High school

CBC St.Kilda

Buckley Park College

Yarra Valley Grammar

Christian College Geelong

Whitefriars College

Caulfield Grammar

St. Bedes College


Shelford Girls Grammar

Camberwell Girls Grammar

St. Andrews Christian College

Some Schools Joel Has Visited...

Example of Incursion Options

See more options at Joel's BOOKED OUT page....

Author Talks: Joel goes Behind-the-Scenes into his own creative writing process and the inspiration of his books to inspire students in their reading and equip them in their writing. Specific focus at the moment on his new Junior Fiction/graphic- URBAN LEGEND HUNTERS: The dreaded Mr Snipe.


Performance Poetry Opener: One Session with Joel performing for students and engaging with them about what sits at the heart of poetry and why someone would be a poet. This introduction to the world of performance poetry can end with students beginning to write their own poem if it is a longer session.

Performance Poetry Beginner: As well as wha is in the Performance Poetry Opener above Joel will lead students through an easy poetic process that will will enable them to write poetry a lot easier than they have found it in the past. (2-3 sessions)

Performance Poetry Deep Dive: 6-8 sessions beginning with creative development and moving into poem construction, editing techniques and performative tools with optional outcomes being- Class Performance/Poetry Slam Competition/Recorded poems published as online album.  (Two full days)

Story-Writing: This can be one session or extended out to being a whole day workshop of STORY CREATION. Focus can also be more specific in terms of WRITING FOR GRAPHIC NOVELS or WRITING SPOOKY STORIES.

Speaking: Joel also speaks about any topic you are after at school graduations, assemblies, chapels, etc. See the Speaking page for more topical info.


Note: Each of these incursions are based on ONE class (approx. 25 students or less). Multiply number of classes to determine length of incursion time- i.e. For three different Year 11 English class groups doing POETRY ESSENTIALS Joel would need to be in the school for 6-7 full days; for four different year 8 English class groups doing POETRY BASICS Joel would need to be in the school for four days. These classes may be spread out as class timetables dictate for less interruption.


Cost: Pricing is worked out with Joel's speaker agency BOOKED OUT, but first contact Joel with your enquiry at Joel will then put you onto the right people at BOOKEDOUT to make it happen.

Performance Poetry Deep Dive
Lesson Schedule Example

    Lesson 1: Poetry Performance and Toolbox

This lesson opens students eyes as to potential of what poetry can be through the performance of Joel’s own poetry as well as his reflecting on what poetry can be within the world. Students will be creating a poetry toolbox through reflecting on what performative and literary tools Joel uses in his works.


    Lesson 2: Poetic Process and INSPIRATION.

This lesson is an introduction into Joel’s poetic process looking at the steps of INSPIRATION, CREATION, CONSTRUCTION and INVITATION. In this lesson Joel focusses in on where we get our inspiration for poetry writing from. By the end of this lesson students will have written two poetic pieces.


    Lesson 3 & 4: CREATION

This lesson focusses in on the initial creative dump in the poetry process. How to break past the foreboding blankness of the empty page. By the end of this class students will have written two more poetic pieces.


    Lesson 5: CONSTRUCTION

This lesson focusses on how students can take the initial writing they have done in the INSPIRATION and CREATION section and now develop and subsequently edit these pieces further into a poetic piece that they could bring out into the world. By the end of this class students will have constructed and developed one of their pieces. 


    Lesson 6: INVITATION

This lesson focusses in on the performance side of poetry. Inviting people in to experience the poetic works that they have been writing through looking at Rhythm, Embodiment, Authenticity, Dynamics and Intentionality. BY the end of this lessons students will have worked out the performance aspect of their piece.

    Lesson 7: PERFORMANCE

This is the culmination of everything. Students get to stand up and share their finished work. 

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Teacher Endorsments


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 | Professional Learning Presenter

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

“The lessons were different and interesting and used a variety of learning styles to continue to convey essential literary techniques and skills. Each of our students grew in personal confidence and felt they were able to express more of themselves and their experience in a meaningful and therapeutic manner. There was clear and assessable growth in student literacy outcomes and to have a published finished product at the end of the unit just made the experience even more meaningful for staff and for students.”

English Teacher- Jarrah School

Joel has attended Donvale Secondary College on six occasions and conducted several days of lessons in order to train and prepare our Year 8 students for the College Poetry Slam. There are many benefits to his involvement in this way in a school, some of these not the obvious ones. He is able to provide a safe and positive environment for student expression (with appropriate balance),as he skills student in the use of literary devices encouraging sthem to articulate their ideas through the medium of poetic expression.He works well with students, particularly engaging those who may not normally be highly engaged in classroom activities. He has good class control, excellent voice projection and is quite a skilled deliverer of his craft as well as an inspirational poet himself. The leadership of our school found the Year 8 student Poetry Slam Presentations so impressive that several of these Year 8 poets were showcased at the annual Thanksgiving Service, an event attended by parents, students and school board members. I would highly recommend Joel in this capacity.

Janice Fielding- Senior English Teacher – Donvale Christian College

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 McKerrow is an energised and enthusiastic master of words that has a talent for teaching young adults about poetry and inspiring them to create their own unique spoken word masterpieces. Joel visited Caroline Chisholm Catholic College in December last year to work with a small group of budding spoken word artists as part of our Directions 9 enrichment week. Over the course of two days, he taught them various techniques for crafting, editing, and performing their work. His ability to connect with students and instil them with the confidence to record their own work was a definite highlight of their enrichment week. Joel has been invited to return to the college in April, 2015 to work with a year 10 Creative Writing class and we are all eagerly awaiting his workshop....If you are seeking to engage students in poetry, equip them with creative writing skills or seeking to build their confidence, I would highly recommend booking Joel.

Rebecca Cattermole- Caroline Chisholm Catholic College

This is Poetry (Why I do What I do).

a school story by joelmckerrow

The boy can hardly look up from the page. He doesn’t want to remember that thirty eyes are staring at him, so he ignores them. Focusses on the tremor of paper in his earthquake hand. His right leg an uncontrollable jerking of muscle and bone. Sweat gathers on his brow though the room is still early morning cold. He slurs the words as they tumble from his mouth. No one cares. He hardly even makes sense at times. No one cares. This is poetry. It is one of the bravest performances I have ever seen.


The boy launches into his story and I know it all too well. It is one I have heard countless times before. It is punches and names and harsh words and the inevitability of feeling small in the face of all the supposed ‘normal’ people. He pushes his story out of his mouth like it never belonged there in the first place. Like it wasn’t meant to be his story. Like somehow he always knew he was larger than the box that it held him in. Yet it seems only now that he is able to recognise this. So he recognises this. He is angry. Angry at them. Angry at the world. Angry at his condition. He is autistic. He tells us that his brain doesn’t quite work right. He tells us that he wants to be normal. He tells us of the countless times people felt it their prerogative to tell him that he wasn’t.

His story ends on a note of defiance. I picture a mouse staring into the face of a cat. Perhaps even scarface claw, the baddest cat from my sons picture book. I see the mouse stand up on two legs defiant and proud and with a bellow of a squeak from the mouse the cat looks shocked and surprisingly scared and suddenly bolts in the opposite direction. The boy finishes the poem about his life. His cat demons, they bolt in the opposite direction. The class is dead silent. It is a moment no one wanted to break. Something profound had just occurred and everyone in the class room knows this. It is tangible. Sacred.

The silence breaks. As if on cue. As if timed to perfection. Every single person erupts into a barrage of applause. The boy looks up from his paper confused. A mouse staring now into headlights. He is not sure what to do. Where to go. So he just stands there and a huge smile breaks through. Ear to ear. He smiles wide and the class love this all the more and they cheer even louder and I stand at the back of the room and everything that I do becomes worthwhile once more. This is poetry.


The teacher tells me that the boy does not write in class. He does not participate. Not like this. This is unheard of. That he crafted his whole story into a poem and stood out the front of the class in this all-boys school and delivered it like this. This is a miracle. This is poetry.

The boy tells me that he has never told anybody his story in his life before. He has not told people of the years of bullying at previous schools. He has not told people of his fight for a normal life in the face of his autism. I tell him just how brave I think he is. I tell him that others need to hear his story. He agrees. The bell goes. He walks out of the room and I never see him again. This is poetry. This is my life. School after school after school. Story after story after story. Lame metaphor after cliched simile after just another rhyming couplet. And I love it all.

There is a rush that comes with standing naked (metaphorically) on a stage and bearing your soul to the world. There is a rush and a catharsis and a healing and a feeling like you could do anything. This is nothing compared to the moment when you see a kid you have been helping to find their words step-up and breakthrough like this boy did. It pales in comparison. This is poetry.

I remember the girl who wept at her Christian school friends for how they treated gay people. I remember the Year 11 boy who broke down as he told his all-boy macho classmates about his mothers condition. I remember the girl who told us of her rape. I remember the scared one who couldn’t even look up at me when we began and as we finished a few days later she was literally screaming her poem to the world. I remember the one with pink hair and poetic words that trampled upon my own. I remember the tears from so many teenagers pooling heavy upon the floor. I remember so many moments when the silence came. When a rowdy class of Year 8’s are brought mute in the face of their classmates bravery and vulnerability. I remember the breakthroughs. I remember the defiance. I remember the steel-toothed determination. I remember it all. I remember the tears that I have cried as I listen to story after story after story.

This is poetry.

This is why I do what I do.

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