‘For some reason, slightly unfathomable, I am reminded of a forest we visited on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido where the annual winter ice festival is held. The forest is sprayed for days by the local fire department, but not before flowers and colored lights have been hung within the branches, so when the whole forest turns to crystalline ice, the lights burn from within, the whole crystal forest glows, and when you walk there, flowers look out from the ice, arrested in full bloom. It is all so unexpected, and so extravagantly beautiful — something essential in such crystallization, and with fire in its core. Well, this vision returned to me reading your manuscript.’  Eleanor Wilner


a new collection exploring the fine line between abundance and apocalypse


After Economy is published by and available for purchase from Shearsman Books. Special thanks to Anupa Garnder for the cover image.

Scottish Poetry Library podcast featuring After Economy:

‘This poetry is so physical, it feels like my spinal bones tremble as I read.’ Atzi


JL Williams: expanding dialogue through poetry across languages, perspectives and cultures and in multimodal and cross-form work including explorations in visual art, music, dance, opera and theatre. 


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Books & Projects

After Economy

‘The fifty-six poems of After Economy balance on a wavering tightrope between oblivion, void and humanity. An intriguing unpredictability fills Williams’ poems, as they unfold into sensitive, beautiful musings: “this poem may die some evening in a garden by the sea”. A hallucinatory-feel transcends the confines of familiarity as “I was close enough / to … Continue reading After Economy

Condition of Fire

‘Now I will tell my stories of bodies that change…’ Ovid, Metamorphoses Ovid wrote his famous stories of change just before he was banished from his beloved Rome and after travelling and observing many diverse and vibrant landscapes. He may well have visited and was knowledgeable of the Aeolian Isles where volcanoes cast molten lava into … Continue reading Condition of Fire

House of the Tragic Poet

A pamphlet entitled House of the Tragic Poet, published by Sam Riviere’s If A Leaf Falls Press. These poems came about because I watched a documentary about a house in Pompeii called The House of the Tragic Poet, and wrote a poem about that house. Then that poem disappeared off my computer. I tried everything I could to … Continue reading House of the Tragic Poet

Locust and Marlin

Nominated for the 2014 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award. ‘The slings and arrows of life are challenge enough and Williams celebrates all of our strengths in her poetry. Just as her words are rich with life and love, they’re also critical, and address the harsher blows of living. The poet refuses to … Continue reading Locust and Marlin

Our Real Red Selves

In war and in birth we reveal “our real red selves”, and this volume brings together three poets whose work moves between life and death. Harry Giles’ Drone explores modern warfare and office life. His “drone” is both a remote-control killing-machine and office drudge who is lonely and lacks job satisfaction. Somehow funny and achingly … Continue reading Our Real Red Selves

Snow: The Opera

Read the 4 * review in The Observer here. It was a privilege to write the libretto for the first production by innovative London-based opera company The Opera Story.  Snow is a three-act opera inspired by the story of Snow White that most of us know, but told from a fresh, and darker, perspective. To do this, … Continue reading Snow: The Opera

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JL Williams

After Economy is spellbinding and profound.’ Jane McKie

JL Williams was born in New Jersey and studied at Wellesley College and on the MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. Her poetry has been published in journals including The CompassMagmaEdinburgh ReviewPoetry Wales, The Wolf, Shearsman, Fulcrum and Stand.

Williams is particularly interested in expanding dialogues through poetry across languages, perspectives and cultures and in cross-form work, music, visual art, dance, opera and theatre.  She was awarded a grant from the Scottish Arts Council for a poetry collaboration entitled chiaroscuro pentimenti and the Edwin Morgan Travel Bursary from the Scottish Arts Trust.  She was selected for the 2015 Jerwood Opera Writing Programme and for the TRG3 Residency Programme at Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh.

In September 2009 she journeyed to the Aeolian Isles to write a collection inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It is called Condition of Fire and was published by Shearsman Books in 2011.  Her second collection, Locust and Marlin, was published by Shearsman in 2014 and was nominated for the 2014 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award. Our Real Red Selves (Vagabond Poets, 2015), a triptych collection featuring Williams, Harry Giles and Marion McCready, considered themes of war and birth.  House of the Tragic Poet, a sequence of poems inspired by the loss of a poem, was published by Sam Riviere’s If A Leaf Falls Press in 2016. After Economy, a collection exploring the fine line between abundance and apocalypse, was published by Shearsman Books in 2017.

Performer in the poetry and music band Hail of Bright Stones with composer and musician James Iremonger, Williams gives regular poetry readings and workshops and is on the Live Literature funded list of Scottish Book Trust Authors.  She has read and performed in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Turkey, Cyprus, Canada, Hungary, Romania, Montenegro and the US. She curates poetry events and creates workshops and professional development activities for poets.

Facebook: Jennifer Lynn Williams

Twitter: @jlwpoetry



After Economy, Shearsman, 2017

House of the Tragic Poet, If A Leaf Falls Press, 2016

Our Real Red Selves, Vagabond Poets, 2015

Locust and Marlin, Shearsman, 2014

Condition of Fire, Shearsman, 2011

Festival Readings:

Ratkovic’s Poetry Evenings 2018, Bijelo Polje, Montenegro

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2017, Edinburgh, Scotland

FISZ-tábor 2017, Visegrad, Hungary

Zona Nouă International Festival (Z9Festival) 2017, Sibiu, Romania

Festival de la Poésie de Montreal 2016, Montreal, Canada

7th Annual Iskele Municipality Culture and Art Days 2016, North Cyprus

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015, Edinburgh, Scotland

International Eskişehir Poetry Festival 2015, Eskişehir, Turkey

Aye Write! Book Festival 2015, Glasgow, Scotland

StAnza International Poetry Festival 2015, St Andrews, Scotland

Aye Write! Book Festival 2013, Glasgow, Scotland

Collaborations and Art:

In the Ink Dark: commissioned writing for curator Luke Pell’s large scale multimedia exploration of memory and mortality, 2016-2017

Presence, Orestes, Presence: commissioned writing for artist Anneli Holmstrom’s -}}}}}} : {{{+}}} exhibition at Summerhall, May-July 2017

Between poles / And tides, performance and audio installation: collaboration with artist Catherine Street, Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, April 2017

The Glass Scene, a collaboration with Iain Morrison, performed at Vine Box, April 2017

Manifestations of Power, a collaboration with Roxana Vilk, performed at Vespers 6, March 2017

New poetic audio work, Between poles, exhibited as part of the Talbot Rice Gallery show Between poles and tides, Spring 2017

content work produce form, a collaboration of 12 women writers for Cooper Gallery, Dundee, December 2016

Writer-in-Residence at British Art Show 8 with Catherine Street

Selected for 2016/17 TRG3 Residency at Talbot Rice Gallery with artist Catherine Street

Commissioned to write Snow, a libretto based on the story of Snow White for The Opera Story, 2016

Relativity and Revelation, a new piece by composer Sarah Lianne Lewis including settings of my poems, performed live and broadcast on France Musique as part of her Voice and Creation residency in Aix-en-Provence at Festival d’Aix

Hail of Bright Stones (formerly known as Opul) and various musical projects with composer and musician James Iremonger

Chiaroscuro Pentimenti with artist Anna Chapman and composer Martin Parker

Continuum with artist Catherine Street and composers/sound designers Martin Parker and Owen Green

Unforeseen at Hidden Door Festival 2015, live improvisation with Catherine Street, resident artists Hans Clausen, Charlie Knox, Martin Sweeny and audience

The Process of Content: on a temporality in contemporary art, Cooper Gallery, Dundee, reading with Catherine Street

Reading and Identity Conference, National Library of Scotland, reading with Catherine Street

12-hour Jamming Symposium, Cooper Gallery, Dundee, reading with Catherine Street

Filmpoems Condition of Fire and Trinity with artist Alastair Cook


Locust and Marlin shortlisted for the Saltire Scottish Poetry Book of the Year, 2014

Edwin Morgan Travel Bursary, 2009

Scottish Arts Council Grant for Chiaroscuro Pentimenti, 2006


Best Scottish Poems, 2015

Best Scottish Poems, 2014

Be The First To Like This, Vagabond Voices, 2014

Alquimia Del Fuego, Amargord Ediciones, Spanish Anthology of Fire Poems, 2014

Quaich: An Anthology of Translation in Scotland Today, 2014

Best Scottish Poems, 2013

New Writing Scotland 30, 2012

Best Scottish Poems, 2011


She has translated poetry from Spanish and Greek, and her poetry has been translated into Spanish, French, Dutch, Polish, German, Turkish and Greek.

JL Williams on the poet CP Cavafy.

Condition of Fire in a Filmpoem by Alastair Cook:

‘The distinction between historian and poet is not in the one writing prose and the other verse – you might put the work of Herodotus into verse, and it would still be a species of history; it consists really in this, that the one describes the thing that has been, and the other a kind of thing that might be. Hence poetry is something more philosophic and of graver import than history, since its statements are of the nature rather of universals, whereas those of history are singulars.’ Aristotle in The Poetics

 JL Williams Archive

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