Change Maker

June 2, 2015

I am very chuffed to announce that I have been named one of the Southbank Centre’s 67 Change Makers! The Change Makers are described as people who ‘use creativity, innovation, courage and determination to make changes that have a positive impact on people’s lives. Some have used the arts in powerful ways to demonstrate that music, dance and literature all have the potential to transform lives.’

Amazing. It’s really good to see that spoken word is being recognised as a positive factor in the transformation of lives.

Why 67? They chose that number is honour of Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of public service. Like I said, well chuffed – even to be named in the the same sentence as him. Even more chuffed to be honoured among some of my personal heroes like Peter Tatchell, Dame Doreen Lawrence, Shami Chakrabarti and slam sister Shirley May.

To celebrate the award Jacob Sam La Rose, Shirley May, Ali Gadema (Frisko) and me will be performing in the Clore Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall from 6-7pm. Full info here

We are the seeds of dreams.


Break Through

April 2, 2015

I have co-ordinated the SLAMbassador slams for around 14 years. In that time, I am asked at least a couple of times a day what a participant might win if they went all the way to the finals. I tell them the obvious: you win a master class,  a gig, you win long term mentoring and continual guidance on developing you career – exploring stages and publishing opportunities. You win the love of the people you work with in your team. You win someone always standing stage-side urging you on toward the microphone. You win the sound of applause settling in your stomach like butterflies. You win self respect.  You win a straighter spine. You win the right to write your future.

You win art.

Oh, and a small trophy.

And then just when you think you’ve won everything you possibly can, the door to the future swings wide open.

I have just had great news about 2 very different poets from different winning teams of SLAMbassadors: Aakifah Aboobakar and Tommy Sissons.

Aakifah Aboobakar and her passionate assault on Islamophobia One Word. One Name. has made it through to the finals of the Amnesty International Youth Awards 2015. She will be travelling to London to accept her award on April 29th, and will have our hearts with her. Huge, huge congratulations from all of us.

Secondly, Tommy Sissons – who only won SLAMbassadors in late 2014 – has become a featured poet on Channel 4’s Four to the Floor, opening the whole series. The series features artists to watch out for, those that Channel 4 believe are about to break through. We couldn’t agree more.

Watch the Possibilities video here

And that’s not all.

Two more SLAMbassadors were published in the highly acclaimed OUTSPOKEN LDN anthology of poetry as well – Ollie O’Neill and Charlotte Higgins – and the book was launch earlier this week in the spectacular Forge jazz venue in Camden. Make sure you buy your copy and support the creation of underground art.

And then of course there is the phenomena of Megan Beech, who was published by Burning Eye Books within weeks of winning SLAMbassadors and whose book When I Grow Up I Want To Be Mary Beard has become an international hit, selling across the UK, USA and Canada.

We are very proud of all you, and look forward to the future with you.

SLAMbassadors UK Open

March 26, 2015

SLAMbassadors UK is now open for entries!

To enter download an Entry Form and post it to

Joelle Taylor

Poetry Society



or scan it and email it to

With the Entry Form please either send a copy of your video to the email above or a link to the You Tube page where you have uploaded it.


The theme is Identity and the Closing Date is 30th Spetember 2015.


Good luck!

SLAMbassadors UK 2014 Winners Announced!

October 24, 2014

Last week the legendary Kate Tempest sat next to me in a darkened room in the heart of Covent Garden before a pull down cinema screen and a projector. We sat there for seven hours, during which time we scrolled through 70 films. She was there – along with the magical Bea Colley from the Southbank Centre and Tom MacAndrew, leading light of the Poetry Society – to help us select the SLAMbassadors UK national youth slam, from a long list of around 900 films. I shortlisted the final films that Kate would watch.

The films entered this year were intensely powerful, personal, political, heart beaten and pure. Some were written with great poetic techniques, some were written on the back of hands, the sides of tongues and the edges of fists.

I found myself rising from my chair as I sat mutely watching some of them. Others I shouted at or along with. The hairs on my arms stood to applaud them. It took a long time to create a shortlist that could conceivably be viewed in only one day. This was our biggest year for entries, and another huge increase of the number of young women slamming it out too. We sat down quietly, opened our notebooks, dunked our faces into thick black coffee and began. We swore a lot. We smiled a lot. And yes, there were inevitable tears – both of horror at what the young spoken word artists were writing about, but also of pride at what a pen, some paper and a microphone can help to achieve. Words change worlds.

We asked you to speak your silences. You did. You are all winners.

Thank you to all of you who entered. I am truly, profoundly grateful to each of you for telling your truths and sharing them with all of us.

As you know though, we could only select 7 poets to perform at the Royal Festival Hall next Friday. The will each perform their debut professional sets in support of Mark Grist, along with live DJ sets from Hussain’s House and VJ-ing provided by the mighty VJ Danielle Harper, along with VJ’s Ben Evenett and Florence Kennard. It will be a breath-stealing show.

Click on the names to see their winning films.

The winners of SLAMbassadors UK 2014 are:

Tommy Sissons

Sadia Ahmed

Jemima Higgins

Abdullah Alselami

Ibukun Badmus

Katie Walters

Saoirse Lennon


We will also be honouring 13 Highly Commended spoken word artists.

Tickets to the performance are free and can be ordered here. Simply specify the number you require.

SLAMbassadors TED Talk

September 2, 2014

The word is spreading! There is a quiet revolution taking place in schools across the UK. It is spoken word.

Watch SLAMbassadors UK Artistic Director and National Coach Joelle Taylor in the latest Tedx Talk about the transformational power of youth slam and spoken word, and speaking the silences:



August 18, 2014

Hope you are enjoying this beautiful summer rain. I have been busy touring festivals and running a few workshops – and getting set to record some more entries into SLAMbassadors UK this weekend at Shambala Festival after my set there.

If you are between 12-18 years old, are a poet, a spoken word artist or rapper/ emcee and you will be at the festival, come and hunt me down. I’m performing at Wandering Word at 7.30pm on Friday night and the next day at 11am I will be leading a workshop session to help identify the next generation of spoken word artists.

Come and find me so I can find you.

And for the rest of you, remember: the closing date is October 10th 2014, and joining me on the judging panel will be the legendary Kate Tempest.

We hope to be watching your films.



Kate Tempest in confirmed at Judge for 2014!!

July 1, 2014

Legendary spoken word artist and alternative hip hop emcee Kate Tempest is joining the Judging Panel for the 2014 SLAMbassadors UK finals!




MASSIVELY popular, Kate Tempest started out when she was 16, rapping at strangers on night buses and pestering mc’s to let her on the mic at raves. Ten years later she is a published playwright, novelist, poet and respected recording artist. Her work includes Balance, her first album with band Sound of Rum; Everything Speaks in its Own Way her first collection of poems, plus the critically acclaimed plays Wasted, Glasshouse and Hopelessly Devoted. Brand New Ancients, her self-performed epic poem to a live score, won the Ted Hughes prize 2013 and the Herald Angel at Edinburgh Fringe. It has sold out tours in the UK and New York and is published by Picador. Her second collection of poetry, Hold Your Own, will be published by Picador on October 2014. Her debut novel, The Bricks That Built The Houses, sold in a highly competitive auction to Bloomsbury and will be published in territories including the UK, US, France, Holland and Brazil in Spring 2015. Excitingly, each track on the record correlates with a chapter in the novel, in a ground-breaking cross-genre experience.

Her single Our Town, with producers letthemusicplay was released on Greco-Roman records. Kate has featured on songs with Sinead O Connor, Bastille, the King Blues, Damien Dempsey and Landslide. She has toured extensively, supporting Billy Bragg on his UK tour, as well as supporting Scroobius Pip, Femi Kuti, Saul Williams and John Cooper Clarke. She is 2 x slam winner at the prestigious Nu-Yorican poetry cafe in New York and has played all the major UK and European music festivals either solo or with Sound of Rum. She’s headlined Latitude festival and has been featured on the BBC’s Glastonbury highlights, Channel 4, BBC Radio 1,4 and 6, as well as XFM and the Charlie Rose Show (Bloomberg) in the US.

Kate’s new album Everybody Down was released in May 2014 on Big Dada records and was BBC Radio 6 Record of the Week. Kate is currently working on a new collection of poems, (to be published by Picador in 2014).

Open to all 12-18 year olds resident in the UK. CLOSING DATE OCTOBER 10TH 2014





Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 57 other followers