The Night Alphabet is the debut collection of short stories from award-winning poet and author Joelle Taylor.

The Night Alphabet are the secret messages scratched into the backs of men by sex trafficked women, a clandestine code of resistance and uprising.

The Night Alphabet tells the magic realist stories of marginalised women around the globe, from refugee mothers breast feeding ghosts to women’s motorcycle gangs.

To coincide with the research and development period of the book, Joelle is currently traveling the world collecting folk stories, sifting through archives, collating documentary evidence, and interviewing women about their lives. You will find some of that research here, along with workshop outlines and a forum you can use to connect with other women writers globally.

Joelle Taylor is an award-winning poet, playwright, educator and author. She founded the national youth slam championships SLAMbassadors for the Poetry Society in 2001 and remains its Artistic Director. She has performed her poetry nationally and internationally and is the host of Out-Spoken, London’s premier poetry and music club.

Her second collection The Woman Who Was Not There (Burning Eye) was named as one of the UK’s top ten recommended collections in the Morning Star and was described by Benjamin Zephaniah as ‘Fearless. Poetry with purpose’. She is widely anthologised, and her work has been translated in to several languages, including Arabic, Finnish, Basque, Estonian, Shona, and Portuguese.

Her essays on poetry and pedagogy appear in How To Be A Poet (Nine Arches Press 2018) and Making Poetry Happen (Bloomsbury 2017). She featured in a BBC documentary about the role of poetry in post-Brexit Britain We Belong Here, alongside Lemn Sissay and Sabrina Mahfouz, and recently appeared on Educating the East End and The One Show.

She is a Subject for Study on the OCR English syllabus and has featured on Tedx Talks and Outsider Lectures. She was awarded a Southbank Centre Change Maker prize, awarded annually in recognition of life changing work, as well as a Fellowship of the Royal Society of the Arts, and was longlisted for the 2017 Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship.

Joelle was commissioned by the BBC to write a broadcast piece for the Hull City of Culture celebrations, with a new collaborative poem broadcast on BBC Radio 4 The Verb. She recently featured in Powerlines, a radio documentary for BBC Radio 3 about the role of the poet as social activist. She is a commissioned poet on the Orwell Prize’s rewriting of Down and Out in London and Paris, and is an editor for both Verve Press and Out-Spoken Press.

Her third collection Songs My Enemy Taught Me is currently touring internationally across the UK and Europe and will be touring Australia and South East Asia over the Autumn of 2018. Please check for complete listings of readings and performances.

As a part of her commitment to working with and giving voice to women from marginalised communities she will leading a series of free intensive masterclasses, working alongside Paiwand (Afghan refugee organisation), Safe Ground (prison arts charity) and Teesside University. The writing generated in those masterclasses will be posted on this site, with a link to the author’s biography and contact details.

The masterclass programme began in 2017 to coincide with her most recent poetry collection Songs My Enemy Taught Me . During those masterclasses Joelle met with hundreds of women from marginalised communities, and published some of their work on her blog site: Songs My Enemy Taught Me.

For The Night Alphabet masterclass programme Joelle wanted to go deeper into those communities, and empower women further. As a result, she has selected 3 women who she will be mentoring individually over the course of the year to help develop their writing, work toward publishing their poetry, make short films of the work and try to create opportunities for each to access the arts as professionals.

A key part of this mentoring process will involve them learning how to facilitate workshops themselves and helping them create their own arts projects for those communities. It is hoped this will have lasting effect on not only the mentees but also on those communities they represent – refugees, ex-offenders and women surviving mental health problems.

We are delighted to announce the mentees:
Fatema S Hawydi
Sarah Crutwell
Lady Unchained

Please watch this space for regular updates on their development, their writing and videos of their short stories.

Sarah Crutwell

Sarah Crutwell is a Spoken Word Poet and Creative Events Organiser based in the North East. Her work aims to address the things we lower our voices to talk about.

With a performance style that is engaging, raw and at times highly emotive, her work takes on issues such as mental health, sex, loneliness, politics, sexuality, ingrained sexism and a woman’s right to make her own decisions. Sarah’s voice is one of unity, strength and interrogation.

She is available for spoken word/poetry performances and workshops


Lady Unchained

“My life ended and began with a prison sentence,
Those metal doors awoke the faith in me”
Lady Unchained

I am Lady Unchained. A poet, promoter, workshop facilitator, Founder and CEO of Unchained Poetry (an artistic platform for artists with experience of the criminal justice system).


Fatema S Hawydi

My name is Fatema Sad Hawydi. I was a child when my family fled Iraq because of Saddam Hussein's regime's brutality, many of them couldn't and got killed. All my family including children and women were sentenced to death because they were considered as members of the opposition party. I was raised in Syria in a refugee camp. My father tried his best to give us a normal life. I started attending biology science at Damascus University, unfortunately I couldn't finish my studying as the civil war started. In 2011 ISIS took over the camp and destroyed my home and again, we had to run away, we didn't lose anything because we had nothing, we never did. My hero Mohammad Hawydi was burned to death by ISIS, that day I lost everything, my soul, my sun and my smile. I lost my language but I found my pen.....