Writing is a way to breathe.
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 Compass, Magma, Edinburgh Review, Poetry 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, explores 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.
Performer in the poetry and music band Opul 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 and the US. She curates poetry events and creates workshops and professional development activities for poets.
Facebook: Jennifer Lynn Williams
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 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
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 a libretto based on the story of Snow White for The Opera Story
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
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
Best Scottish Poems, 2013
New Writing Scotland 30, 2012
Best Scottish Poems, 2011
JL Williams on the poet CP Cavafy.
‘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