About Joelle Taylor

 ImageJoelle Taylor began performing as a solo poet after her band lost interest in themselves half way through a song. Never one to be described as observant, Joelle continued speaking over a non-existent backing track – and her spoken word career was born. She was 17 at the time, and by the end of the gig had procured an anarchic manager who quickly set her up to support the Pogues on tour. It was 1986. Since then she has focussed on play writing and developing her performance novel, as well as becoming one of the better known haggard faces of the spoken word scene. She was a member of poetry super group Atomic Lip from 1997 onward (along with Steve Tasane, Patience Agbabi and the Speech Painter), and was proud to be a part of the AL Lit Pop celebrations at the 100 Club later that year – a festival that programmed literally every well known performance poet onto the stage over 3 days.

Joelle has been wildly fortunate to have shared a stage with many of her idols, those who spoke to her through the radio as a child or through books as an adult) such as Linton Kwesi Johnson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Armitage, Lemn Sissay, Jo Shapcott, Jackie Kay, Scroobius Pip, Dizraeli, John Agard, Kat Francois and Holly McNish.

She has performed at every high profile venue in the UK as well as at the back of bars, the back alleys and the back seats of buses. Notable gigs have taken place at Trafalgar Square, the Royal Court, the Royal Festival Hall, the Purcell Rooms, the Poetry Cafe, and the Barbican. She has worked with the Poetry Society, Apples and Snakes, Glastonbury Festival, Larmer Tree Festival, Creative Partnerships, Arvon and the Southbank Centre –as well as numerous small booking agents and venues. For performance enquiries please contact joelletaylorbookings@yahoo.com





Welcome to the website of the ill-literati.

I spit through split lips

Pressed the pen so hard I broke my wrist

Gripped the microphone in shaking fists

Deliver poetry for the apocalypse

Joelle Taylor is a spoken word artist, playwright, performance novelist and cultural terrorist. She has performed across the UK as well as internationally for the British Council in Zimbabwe and Botswana, taking in a diverse range of venues from Dingwalls, the 100 Club, the O2 Arena, the Royal Festival Hall and Ronnie Scott’s to the Royal Court, the ICA, Buckingham Place and Pentonville Prison. Her book Ska Tissue was released in 2011 on her own label MotherFoucault and, after a summer festival tour, is now in its second edition. Her collection The Woman Who Was Not There was released on Burning Eye in 2014 and was named as one of the best poetry books of that year by the Morning Star.

In 2001 she co-ordinated the first London youth slam championships for the Poetry Society and is currently the Artistic Director of SLAMbassadors UK, the national youth slam championships. Joelle is also the coach of the UK team and delivers Master Classes and ongoing mentoring for young poets and spoken word artists (aged 12 – 19). She has a wide experience of working in both primary and secondary schools – and is the Poet in Residence at both Kingsmead Primary in Hackney and Newstead Wood School for Girls in Kent – as well as tutoring adult poetry courses (Arvon Foundation, Cardboard Citizens).

Her plays are Naming (1994 Oval House Theatre), Whorror Stories (1995 Oval House Theatre), Whorror Stories II (1996 Oval House Theatre), Lucid Johnston (2000 Kings Head Theatre. 2001 Oval House Theatre), Abigail’s Play Party (published BRAND 2009).

Her books include Brand (2009) Intwasa (Ama 2008), Acts of Passion (Routledge 1998), and Domestic Violence (Scarlet Press 1995) and she has written numerous articles and essays for texts on both slam poetry and physical theatre. She was also the curator of Mother Foucault Spoken Word Burlesque at the Whitechapel Art Gallery and the Poetry Society, and specialises in putting famous writers in very small spaces – such as Will Self, Robert Gluck and Fay Weldon – just to see if they fit. She is currently working on her debut novel Whorror Stories and her first collection of poetry Ska Tissue was released in 2011 on MotherFoucault Press. She has appeared on numerous television (including Blue Peter and Faking It) and radio shows (including Edwina Curry Show, Women’s Hour, Radio 1 Extra). A documentary film about her life and work Life Changing Verse was made by Don Productions in 2010 and broadcast on television


‘As addictive as the most uncensored gossip’ The Stage

Grabs you by the nipples’ DIVA

‘Awesome white knuckle joyride in to repressed female psycho-sexuality’ Time Out

The bare breasted whore meets the horror genre’ The Guardian



all photographs by Hayley Madden