Our Story

Postcard for Sydney Slam 2005 featuring Miles Merrill as MC

Postcard for Sydney Slam 2005 featuring Miles Merrill as MC


Word Travels was started by Miles Merrill in 2007. After 11 years of performing his own stories, poems and monologues, Merrill decided to offer opportunities to artists with similar passions and abilities.

Merrill formed Word Travels while working with The State Library of NSW. A number of spoken-word projects were born out of this collaboration. Merrill needed to build an organisation to include multiple stakeholders and separate large group programs from his personal artistic career.

From 2005 to 2009, the library assisted Word Travels in setting up Australia’s first national poetry slam. In 2008, Word Travels also produced Night Words, Australia’s first spoken-word festival at the Sydney Opera House.

In June 2010, Word Travels incorporated as a not-for-profit arts association.

Word Travels founder, Miles Merrill is African-American. He started his career as an actor being offered roles like Janitor 1 or the The Indian Guy. He realised that his own thoughts or emotions would never be revealed waiting around for someone to cast him in the perfect script. He switched his university major to focus on writing. He discovered even more conservative mono-culturalism in the writing industry, with editors and publishers offering feedback like: “It’s excellent writing but not relevant to our audience."

To counter these blocks, he chose to combine his writing with his performance. Through performing writing he reached audiences immediately. He got his own ideas and emotions recognised, applauded and supported.

Merrill realised others were having similar experiences: never feeling heard, always waiting for permission to speak to an audience. This is why he set up and continues to run Word Travels.