‘They are literally murdering us’: poet Joelle Taylor on bringing the LGBTQ+ community together

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01/17/2022

Since winning the TS Eliot award for poetry last week, Joelle Taylor has been referred to on more than one occasion as a “slam poet”. Which, she says, is fascinating: “Because there’s no such thing as a slam poet.” A poetry slam is an event, a spoken-word competition, she adds, not a type of poetry. Taylor, who was named UK performance poetry slam champion in 2000 and founded the national youth slam championships SLAMbassadors, is forgiving, though: “It’s just a way of people trying to understand a different kind of poetry.” But it’s clear that this need to distinguish spoken word from other forms of poetry has a whiff of snobbery about it. “You can’t talk about published poetry without talking about class, or gender, or race, or sexuality,” she says. “Because these are all the doors that are shut – we’re still in a publishing situation where the majority of those published are white men.”

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