Joelle Taylor’s Poetry Challenge

Joelle Taylor reads her Poem ‘No Man’s Land’.

Joelle sets her writing challenge

Challenge: Using the same techniques Joelle uses in ‘No Man’s Land’, write a poem from the point of view of one of the following.

  • a refugee
  • a person about to go on stage in front of a thousand people
  • the Earth

Draw on the character’s experiences to describe their bodies. Keep it as simple as possible for the first draft, but in your second draft you may wish to veer away from the original challenge as you develop your poem. It’s interesting to explore method writing and write from another perspective, and this may lead to a poem which very different from where you started.

Here are some examples written by YPN members:

Space by Kerry Thomas
If only Al Gore had won… by Tom Ayling
No Man’s Land by Kate Beviss
Poetry Recital, Somewhere in the City by Dan Hodgkinson
Skin by Jade Cuttle
come back by Helen Bowell

If you’ve tried this challenge and written a poem you’d like to submit somewhere, why not have a look at our Poetry Opportunities section and see if there’s anywhere that you like the look of.

Joelle Taylor is a spoken word artist, published poet and playwright, as well as the founder and Artistic Director of SLAMbassadors UK. She has performed nationally and internationally for the British Council, touring both Zimbabwe and Botswana, and has performed at a diverse range of high profile venues including the Royal Festival Hall, Buckingham Palace, the 02 arena, Glastonbury Festival, and Trafalgar Square amongst many others. She is anthologised widely and has also appeared on numerous television and radio programmes. Her new poetry collection Ska Tissue is out now and she will be touring the UK over the summer.

Published May, 2011

12 thoughts on “Joelle Taylor’s Poetry Challenge

  1. I heard Joelle read this at the Poetry Day reading after the award ceremony! I remember writing down ‘immigration central was a loveletter in another language’ and ‘his teeth looked like the New York skyline’ in my notebook.

    The writing challenge might be difficult because I’ve never really written from that kind of idea before >.<'

  2. ‘his teeth looked like the New York skyline’


  3. I remember it too! haha – I love the contrast with “and he belonged here, he should’ve stayed here” and the rest of the poem – it’s kind of a ‘sit-up-and-listen’ moment.

  4. Have any of you tried the challenge? 🙂 I loved the themes, but unfortunately wasn’t able to complete anything because I’ve been very busy with something else. I would love to read what your spirited minds have written, homies 🙂

  5. I’m new to the site, first post!
    I saw it and gave it a go. I tried to stick to the rules but veered off a bit. It was a fun challenge and i’m quite happy with what I came up with 🙂

  6. I really enjoyed this challenge and Joelle’s poem, ‘No Man’s Land’. I’m now searching frantically for a copy of ‘Ska Tissue’ but can find nothing on the internet 🙁 anyone know where I can get me hands on a copy???

  7. Wow! I’m actually visiting via my daughter’s recommendation, but am compelled to comment after listening to this reading. What an amazing poem! My husband is a refugee of the Balkan conflicts, these words really hit home.

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