JL Williams


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 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, 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

Twitter: @jlwpoetry


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:

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

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