a new collection exploring the fine line between abundance and apocalypse
‘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
‘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 hear colour, to see sound”. Enigmatic and thought-provoking poems.’ Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Summer Selections 2017
If Burns’s collection is like the soothing chatter of grownups, the voices in J. L. Williams’s After Economy are more akin to the half-heard voices of dreams – compelling, disorientating, moreish – leaving you, on waking, wondering what just happened… The summary-haiku (which raises more questions than it answers) has it: ‘The red glittering / destruction of the self which / is also the heart.’ The heart slowly beats us into oblivion: a neat (if uncomfortable) thought, and one of many fecund ideas in this rich, strange collection. Penny Boxall, The Compass
‘After Economy is spellbinding and profound. The best yet, possibly. I love it!’ Jane McKie
‘This poetry is so physical, it feels like my spinal bones tremble as I read.’ Atzi
Scottish Poetry Library podcast featuring After Economy
After Economy Book Launch at Talbot Rice Gallery, May 2017
Photos by Chris Scott.
Paradigm, from After Economy, in The Scotsman Magazine:
Listen to a few poems from After Economy:
JL Williams: expanding dialogues through poetry across languages, perspectives and cultures and in cross-form work, visual art, dance, opera and theatre.