StAnza Workshop: Between Worlds

I very much enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with curators at MUSA, the Museum of the University of St Andrews, to lead a writing workshop for this year’s StAnza Poetry Festival on writing between worlds, in response to ritual masks and portraits in the collection. A brilliant group of writers gathered and we explored art, poetry, the self in myriad cultures (and the hidden self) and more. You can read all about it here.

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Poets moving between worlds.

In other news, I am busy trying to decide if this is spring. I have seen cherry trees in flower. I wildly purchased two pairs of summer shoes a few weeks back when we had a day or two of temperature that rose above 15 degrees, but now I am wondering if that was premature… as May dawns and I am still donning my winter coat every morning. And hat. And gloves. Still, my sister is getting married this June so we will be heading to New Jersey, New York and Vermont in what does not feel like TOO long now, and I sure hope it will be sunny. HOT and sunny.

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Spring?

For my sanity, I have been avoiding the real news, which does not seem like real news. It becomes especially fun to drop in every once in a while as the novelty makes it appear even more special. Like, Kanye said WHAT? Ah, back to poetry and the LRB, that noble publication, a subscription to which a kind friend has just gifted me. At least in the LRB, the grumbling is beautifully-composed and goes on for many crisp pages that make a sort of intelligent sigh when you turn the page. Now that my kind bosses have allowed me to compress my hours and I have every Friday (every Friday!) all to myself for writing, this becomes the kind of sophisticated temptation I have to push against. Write Jennifer, write!

Music, Poetry and Creative Learning

The Festival of Creative Learning is just about to kick off and we are bouncing with excitement as we have over 130 extraordinary events taking place across the University. I will be going to a witchcraft spell zine creating workshop, AI film screenings, an introduction to contemporary circus, an event exploring the refugee crisis through legislative theatre, a jewellery and anatomy event where we will be making body part-shaped jewels and much more!

In the midst of all this, James and I – aka OPUL – will be performing at Click Clack on Thursday evening, so join us if you’re in the mood for some poetry & music and cool jazz.

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We are also preparing for a special event as part of this project: TIMESCAPES Edinburgh. OPUL will be contributing poetry & music to Looking for Lucey: Celebrating the work of filmmaker Eric Lucey on 15 March at the Roxy Art House. Booking details will be available soon.

 

 

EIBF Live Poetry Lab

I had such fun at the Edinburgh International Book Festival today, writing in a tent on George Square for three hours as part of the Live Poetry Lab. A number of nice folks dropped in to share their festival memories with me, and we had intriguing conversations about the history and politics of the festivals in Edinburgh, and about culture and writing generally.

Colin Herd and Jane McKie produced incredible texts on Monday and Tuesday, and Peter Mackay and Ryan Van Winkle are still to come. It felt quite exposed, writing in this way… the work is very much a sketch rather than a finished product, and not what one would normally share with the wider public. It was a remarkably fruitful and productive creative constraint, however, and certainly has produced a mass of work that I will mine and edit into more polished poems. I hope the exercise serves as inspiration for other writers who might be stuck or feeling as if they don’t have much time to write. Give yourself a set amount of time: 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 3 hours… and see where the pen/pencil/keyboard takes you!

Many thanks to dear Ioannis Kalkounos, EIBF Programme Manager (and excellent poet himself!), for organising this project, to EIBF for hosting it and to everyone who has contributed memories. You can continue to read the work from the Lab here and tweet your own festival memories to #LivePoetryLab.

Also thanks to Rachael Boast… I so enjoyed reading with her at EIBF last Tuesday, and to Marjorie Lotfi Gill and Claire Urquhart and all the folks working on the brilliant Open Book project for the chance to read to the remarkable women’s group from the Maryhill Integration Network and to have my poems translated and read out in Arabic by Saffanna who took my breath away. It’s been a fantastic Book Festival thus far, and so much more to come!

Also if you’re in town on Saturday night and love poetry, come along to this: Second Space Poetry.

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August in Edinburgh

It’s August in Edinburgh! There’s so much that is marvellous on offer, how can one choose? I’m already mourning my missing of the PJ Harvey gig, which I hear was life changing. Still to come: a few readings which it would be brilliant to see you at…

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I have the pleasure of reading at the Edinburgh International Book Festival with Rachael Boast on Tuesday 15 August at 3.30pm. Book your tickets here.

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The week starting Monday 21 August I’m part of the EIBF Live Poetry Lab residencies. My day is Wednesday 23 August but there are great poets on tap all week. Come along to watch us writing live and/or to contribute to our texts, tweet in contributions and festival memories to #LivePoetryLab and watch our collaborative writing come into being live online. More details and information about how you can contribute here and here.

I will also be reading on a stupendous bill at Second Space Poetry at the Safari Lounge starting at 8pm sharp on Saturday 26 August. More details here.

I’m planning to attend the Atlantic Drift launch party, which looks great and will feature readings by Andrea Brady, Sean Bonney & Sophie Collins.

I’ll be checking out the exhibitions at Talbot Rice Gallery and the Edinburgh Art Festival.

We’ve got tickets for Verdi’s Macbeth, plenty of events at the Edinburgh International Book Festival including Michael Longley and Rachel McCrum & Miriam Nash, Daphne Loads in the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas talking about recipes and gender quality, Theatre Re and hopefully much more — recommendations are most welcome. Have a beautiful August, and for those of you in Edinburgh… happy Festivals!

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Drown Not Wee Blossom

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Happy Thursday! Here in Edinburgh we’re swimming through the streets thanks to this day of rain, but I’m appreciating it because someone was just telling me that in Ibiza there are no rivers anymore because there is no rainfall… is that true? Anyway, it makes me feel lucky to be in a place where there is still some rain pouring down, for the sake of the blossoms at least.

Also I feel lucky because there are very nice events to share with you, as well as a brand new Scottish Poetry Library podcast featuring After Economy. Have a listen here. Dear Colin accidentally says ‘Shearsmith’ rather than ‘Shearsman’… but he means Shearsman! Here is a link to the Edinburgh International Book Festival event I’m doing with Rachel Boast: River of Words and here is a link to the Live Poetry Lab live writing event, both of which I mention in the podcast. Please join us!

If you’re free tomorrow night, come to the gorgeous Golden Hare Books in my old hood, Stockbridge (Can Stockbridge be called a hood?  It seems incongruous. See: New Town Flaneur). I’m delighted to be kicking off their first ever Hear Hare Here: Poetry at Golden Hare Books event with Claire Askew and Theresa Muñoz, MCed by booksellers and poetry lovers Alice Tarbuck and Annie Rutherford.

I’m not sure if I will be there as my darling sis and nephew are visiting from America and I don’t know how much poetry I can make them sit through in one visit, but this sounds amazing so go along if you can: Chrissy Williams, Wayne Miller, Anthony Autumn and Ruthie Kennedy.

This looks beautiful too! Emilia Weber at Sad Press

And finally, for now, wet your whistle, fill your belly and tickle your imagination at: Four Simmer, A Night of Poetry and Flavour at Edinburgh Food Studio.

“This unique collaboration series between food & poetry will use flavour, scent, and colour in response to some of Scotland’s most distinct voices. A delicious evening which will touch all of your senses.

Hosted by Salitre award winning poet Ryan Van Winkle, ‘Simmer’ pairs four poets with dishes carefully selected & prepared to illuminate and echo their work. Readings will be from Emily Ballou, JL Williams, Ron Butlin, and Tom Pow.”

Tickets are going fast, so book here if this makes you hungry!

Stay dry or get wet, and have a beautiful weekend.

 

YOU ARE THE FIRE

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I’m running a poetry workshop on Monday for some amazing students on the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at the University of Edinburgh. We’ll be responding to the work of Upile Chisala, following on from a recent visit she made to read for the students. I’m feeling very inspired by Upile’s fire!

Also coming up:

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I’m super excited to be reading at this new night with a stellar lineup. I’ll be performing a debut collaboration with the poet Iain Morrison, in which we’ll be exploring singing glasses, opening and poetry as musical score. Come along tomorrow (Friday 14 April) at 7pm to St Margaret’s House – more details here.

And tides

Then on 27 April feetat 6pm I will be reading with Catherine Street at Talbot Rice Gallery. We’ll be sharing the new piece we’ve created in response to the current exhibition, Between poles and tides.  This new work is called ‘And tides’ and you can book your seat here.

Keep burning and keep singing from your heart!

AFTER ECONOMY Launch

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AFTER ECONOMY

a new collection exploring the fine line between abundance and apocalypse

Out now! Get your copy here, and book here for the After Economy Edinburgh launch at Talbot Rice Gallery. More details below. It would be lovely to see you there.

After Economy | JL Williams

Book Launch

Talbot Rice Gallery

3 May 2017 6pm-7.30pm

Book tickets here.

Please join us for the launch of a new collection of poetry, After Economy, by JL Williams.

Williams has a piece in the current exhibition Between poles and tides, and you are invited to explore the show during your visit.

This event will feature a short reading by Williams, who will be accompanied by the award-winning composer and cellist, Atzi.

After Economy is an exploration of the fine line between abundance and apocalypse, an attempt to respond formally and thematically to the complexities faced by human beings living amidst political unrest and technology-driven cultural change, and an inquiry into our relationship with time.

‘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 Libretto Comes to Life

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I’ve always been interested in collaborative art forms. Some of my very early and most joyful memories are of being taken by my wonderful mother, grandmother and uncle to see plays, musicals and ballet. The magic of words, music and movement coming together to stupendous effect at these performances has continued to inspire me throughout my life.

Up until a couple of years ago, my musical collaborations had been on a relatively small scale and involved me working with one or two musicians and usually performing the words myself (for instance, the music and poetry project OPUL that I share with my partner, James Iremonger). However in 2014 I was accepted onto the Jerwood Opera Writing Programme, and it was through that amazing experience that I met a group of extraordinary composers including Samantha Fernando and Lliam Paterson. At one of the residential weeks in Aldeburgh, Lliam asked if I might be interested in writing a libretto for a new opera company. It was such an exciting offer! The company was brand new, based in London and interested in making new opera in new ways, with young artists in unusual spaces. I jumped at the chance.

He explained that the idea for the first project was to create a new operatic version of Snow White. I loved this idea and remember an enchanting walk Lliam and I took through the fields of rushes at Snape Maltings, discussing the many narrative and temporal possibilities for setting the drama. One of the ideas that was always very core to the project was to draw on early myths and tales that pre-date the somewhat cleaned up version of Snow White that many of us know from the Disney film. The Opera Story, as the new company was to be called, would keep story at the forefront of their operas and this was great news for a writer.  In some opera projects – as we had explained to us during the Jerwood Opera Writing Course – the libretto is the starting point but also seen to be of less importance than the musical components which come next.

Writing the libretto was a completely gorgeous experience. Since my first collection of poetry, Condition of Fire, which was a response to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, I have enjoyed working from and reimagining pre-existing texts and stories. When engaging with such rich material, the challenge is to find your own way to tell a very well-known story, and opera adds in its own challenges in that often when set to music some words can be lost. This may be for many reasons – when we sing words the timing of the sounds change, the pitch and volume modulate and all this is set against a musical backdrop that may support or compete with the singers. On the other hand, thankfully, there are so many ways the music, set, direction and acting can enhance the communication of the story, and in this case the fact that Snow White was such a well-known tale to begin with was ultimately very freeing.

Often poets are recruited to write libretti, as they are ideally able to use language in a way that is concise and rhythmic, even musical. This can make the job of the composer easier as you can imagine how difficult it could be to set a novel or even a typical play to music. A poem, if working well, can communicate much without having to use too many words, and the spaces in poetic writing offer room for music and drama. My libretto isn’t a poem or a play, but some mixture of the two specially designed for the operatic form.

Unfortunately Lliam ended up not being able to compose for this opera, though for good reasons as he had too much other work on his plate, and instead the folks at The Opera Story came up with the brilliant idea of inviting not one but three talented young composers to create the music, one for each act. I first met these fabulous composers, Lucie Treacher, Lewis Murphy and Tom Floyd, at a full day workshop at the home of Artistic Director, Hamish Mackay, nearly a year ago. Executive Director Manuel Fajardo joined us, and together we discussed the intricacies of each scene and character. It was such a special experience to have all these creative brains working together to envisage how the story would evolve. With the help of the three composers, the brilliant director James Hurley who brought so much research and insightful observation to the process, and the kind support and input of Hamish and Manuel along the way, we got to a point where the libretto was ready to pass on to the composers and my role was, essentially, complete.

As months have passed since I submitted the final draft of the libretto, I can hardly contain or express my excitement at the prospect of finally getting to see the finished opera at the Bussey Building in less than a week’s time. To have an idea begin as a poetic spark in one’s heart and mind, and to be so close to seeing it blazing in full voice, music, light, costume, set and drama on stage, is almost more than I can comprehend. It takes me back to the joy of those early childhood memories, when stories shimmered to life on stage in a way that was truly magical.

I want to express my gratitude to all the many, many people involved whose hard work has brought Snow to life, and I hope you will be able to join us at one of the performances in London this week: http://theoperastory.com.

Festival of Creative Learning

This post went out last week on our blog at the Festival of Creative Learning and I thought I would share it here as well. Hope you enjoy and to see you at a Festival event if you can make it along.

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It’s just over two months since I started as Projects and Engagement Coordinator for the Institute for Academic Development at the University of Edinburgh. It has been a fascinating and joyful time, and I’m especially excited as the Festival that I am looking after is taking place next week.

It’s called the Festival of Creative Learningand this is the first year of the Festival proper, though it has evolved from something called ‘Innovative Learning Week’ which ran for 5 years (learn more about ILW here).

After an intensive period of development led by the previous Festival organiser, the brilliant Johanna Holtan, the Festival of Creative Learning emerged, and it’s a privilege to be able to continue all the good work that has gone into making the Festival what it is and to think about how it can continue to grow in future.

The Festival aims to provide space for staff and students at the University of Edinburgh to play, to experiment, to innovate, to collaborate and, dare I say it, to fail. How precious, how rare it is to discover this sort of space – where the emphasis isn’t on how many seats we fill, how many tickets we sell, how many answers we get right, but rather on truly exploring and pushing boundaries, communicating in radically new ways and leaping into the dark to find out what’s there.

Our goals are to help staff and students create innovative, experimental and collaborative ways of learning in a safe space, to give people the training and support they need to design and run events, and to celebrate the work of all our event organisers and the discoveries we make together along the way. By its very nature and commitment to openness and diversity, the programme covers an enormous range of disciplines and activities, and we encourage everyone to peruse our events calendar to get a sense of the depth and breadth of the events on offer.

Rather than running each of the events ourselves (our fabulous but small team includes my colleagues Lucy Ridley and Silje Graffer), we seek proposals from staff and students, distribute funding, provide a platform and communications umbrella for the events and aim to empower our staff and students to get the most out of what we provide. We hope that the Festival is a learning experience not just in terms of the research being conducted but also in events design and management, imparting vital skills to organisers that they can make use of in future employment, study and enterprise.

Much work is being done to explore the future of learning and teaching, and learning that involves doing and which empowers students rather than treating them like inanimate vessels to be filled is on the forefront of what appears to be not only the most effective but also the most enjoyable means to growth. We want to celebrate the idea that we learn better when we are enjoying ourselves, when we are treated with care and respect, and when we are encouraged to use our imaginations and to play.

The Festival will continue to develop, and we’ve already gathered a long list of ideas about ways to make the Festival even more useful, expansive, innovative and attractive (and do get in touch with your own suggestions), but first our team is going to visit as many of the events as we can in person to see the extraordinary experiments that our organisers have brought to life. We hope you will take the leap as well and join us for at least one of our events next week, and consider developing an idea for a Festival Pop-up event throughout the year or for an event for the Festival of Creative Learning 2018. In the meantime, keep an eye out for our hashtag #FCL17 on social media, where we’ll be telling stories and posting photographs all next week.

You can read more about the aims and values of the Festival here, and you can book tickets for our events here. Many of the events are aimed primarily at staff and students at the University, however the following events are open to external attendees and can be booked via Eventbrite:Introduction to Massage in Schools Programme, Manifest Destiny: A Multidisciplinary Forum on Mars Colonisation, Design for Wellbeing, Biffa tour: How does recycling work?, Learning Language Through Theatre, Making History: a Feminist Craft Project, ‘Camelot, tis a silly place’: Popular Culture and Scottish Heritage Castle Trip, Tech Art Collaboration Workshop and “The Birds and the Bees” Board game.

Here’s to learning without boundaries, in ways that celebrate the creativity inherent in each of us. 

 

Jennifer Williams

Projects & Engagement Coordinator

Institute for Academic Development

Between poles and tides at Talbot Rice Gallery

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For some time now, I have had the pleasure of being one of the TRG3 residents at Talbot Rice Gallery with my dear friend, the artist Catherine Street.  We have had an amazing time responding to recent exhibitions, including Alice Neel: The Subject and Me and the British Art Show 8.

I was delighted to have the opportunity, following on from our residency, to contribute a text piece to the gallery’s new show: Between poles and tides.  It is an extraordinary mix of media and ideas, curated by Stuart Fallon and Neil Lebeter, with the theme of temporality twining the pieces together.  Artists include Daisy Lafarge, Ilana Halperin, Ian Hamilton Finlay and fabulous others.

My contribution is an ‘audio guide’ that you can listen to on headphones as you wander about the gallery, though it might not be the sort of audio guide you’ve come across before.

Please join us for the preview and get along to see the show.  If you have a listen on the headphones, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the experience.

Preview: Friday 10 February 2017: details here.

From the Talbot Rice website:

New Acquisitions from the University of Edinburgh Art Collection

David Batchelor, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Ilana Halperin, Jessica Harrison, Fabienne Hess, Daniel Hughes, Daisy Lafarge, Jonathan Owen, Katie Paterson, Isobel Turley, Luc Tuymans, JL Williams

#talbotrice | #betweenpoles

Including three tattooed Doulton figurines, a set of clocks that tell the time of every planet in the solar system, a sculpture created over ten months in a French cave and a large gazing leopard projected over the main Gallery space, Between poles and tides is a dramatic display of work recently acquired by the University of Edinburgh. It features work by established artists, recent graduates and works connected to the Talbot Rice Gallery programme.

Actively building its contemporary art collection since 2012, the University of Edinburgh has been strategically acquiring works that reflect and feed the breadth and depth of its teaching, learning and academic community. Ensuring public access to this collection, Between poles and tides demonstrates the quality and diversity of these new acquisitions. Formally and conceptually dynamic, the exhibition includes sculpture, painting, printmaking, video and poetry; whilst exploring ecology, cosmology, politics and geology. Reflecting a cross-section of contemporary artistic practice, it includes works concerned with appropriation, materiality and the act of collecting itself.

Flint & Pitch plus 12-Hour Action Group

Hello there!

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So much has been happening, and is happening… here are details and invitations for you:

I finished up at the Scottish Poetry Library in November and will be starting at my new job as Projects and Engagement Coordinator for the Institute for Academic Development at the University of Edinburgh next week – exciting!  Here is a super nice SPL Post that dear Colin Waters, SPL Communications Manager, wrote for my leaving.  Here too, on that subject, is a pre-election piece for the SRB he wrote mentioning my fateful meeting with Hillary Clinton so long ago that might remind you of those more innocent pre-Trump days.

Tomorrow I’m reading poetry at The Flint & Pitch Revue #2 along with a whole host of dizzyingly talented folks, so please do come along if you can make it.  It’s at the Bongo Club at 7pm and you can book your tickets here.

Then on Saturday I’ll be at Cooper Gallery in Dundee for the Of Other Spaces: Where Does Gesture Become Event? International Symposium 12-Hour Action Group, starting at 11am and, you guessed it, ending at 11pm.  I’ve been curating a collaborative writing project with 11 other Edinburgh-based writers in response to material in this incredible show, and it’s been such a stimulating, inspiring and redemptive experience to be making this collective work, especially over these past trying weeks.  We’ll be performing some of the texts, which will also appear shortly on the Cooper Gallery website.  You can come to this Symposium as well,  it’s free but you need to RSVP here.

There’s more to tell, but I think I will stop here for now and promise more soon.  Hope to see you at one or both of these events, or somewhere else very soon!

 

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http://www.dundee.ac.uk/djcad/exhibitions/events/actiongroupsymposium/

 

 

 

Flint & Pitch

I’m honoured and delighted to have been asked to be part of the second ever Flint & Pitch Revue at the Bongo Club on 2 December… what a line up, what a treat!  More details here.

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Otata, The Temples and The Three Cities

I have been lucky to have been travelling quite a bit lately – I am actually writing this from the Dostoevsky Library in Moscow where, thanks to the British Council and the Edwin Morgan Trust, I am facilitating a translation workshop between three Scottish poets and three Russian poets. 

This trip follows close on the heels of a journey to Malta to attend (as an observer) the Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival 2016.  It is a wonderful festival where writers are brought together from all around the Mediterranean and beyond, and spend a week translating one another’s poetry.  They then present their poems and the new translations in an extraordinary fort by the sea.  I was invited on a tour of the city which included ancient Stone Age temples, a typical Matlese village and Vittoriosa, one of the fortifified Three Cities.   Inspired by the words of our brilliant tour guide, John Neville Ebejer, I wrote a short sequence of haiku that has just been published on John Martone’s blog Otata, along with a collection of brilliant work from UK poets including John Phillips, David Miller, Erica Van Horn, Simon Cutts, Thomas A. Clark, Alec Finlay, Lila Matsumoto, Malcolm Ritchie, Julie Johnstone, Gerry Loose and Ian Storr, which you can see here

 Hope you enjoy!

Events: Summertime & the Living is…

A little summary of the handful of events I have coming up… would be wonderful to see you at one, some or all if you can make it along.

A Word in Your Shell-Like

I have not been an actual performer in the Edinburgh Fringe for some time, but I get a chance this year as part of this lovely wee poetry event, which also features my SPL colleague and wonderful poet Georgi Gill.  There is an open mic element to it so please come and join us to share your poems and see some soothing sea-inspired art in the midst of the festival madness.

Info and tickets here: Edinburgh Fringe Programme

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A Word in Your Shell-Like

Edinburgh-based poets Georgi Gill and JL Williams will perform their work together for the first time and for one night only during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The performance, A Word in Your Shell-Like, takes place in a city art gallery, and will feature poems with a salty bite, echoing ceramicist Liz Watts’ nautical Fringe installation Beached at the same venue.

Unusually for a Fringe event, fellow castaways in the audience can join in with the performance, with open mic slots available on the night for anyone who would like to perform sea-themed poems and acoustic songs.

The two poets, who work together by day at Edinburgh’s Scottish Poetry Library, are both widely published. Fittingly, Georgi Gill is the daughter of a sailor, and grew up on the banks of the Gare Loch, where she regularly saw nuclear submarines rise to the water’s surface from her living room window. She will be a guest editor of The Interpreter’s House literary journal this year. JL Williams’ first collection, Condition of Fire was inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses and a journey to the Aeolian Islands. Her second, Locust and Marlin explores the idea of home and where we come from, and was shortlisted for the 2014 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award. Williams plays in the poetry and music band Opul. Her work has been translated into seven languages, and her father is also a sailor who taught her to sail when she was little.

The event is a satellite edition of the hugely successful reading series, Words & Ears, which takes place monthly in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. Here, as at those events, people are invited to bring their words, or simply their ears – all warmly welcomed.

A Word in Your Shell-Like is on from 7.30pm – 10pm on Thursday 11th August at EDS Gallery, 13A Great King St, Edinburgh EH3 6QW (Edinburgh Fringe Venue 324). There will be an interval in which the audience is invited to chat to the poets. Tickets, £3, through the Edinburgh Fringe Box Office or on the door. For more information, email dawn@dawngorman.co.uk

CLICK CLACK: A little poetry and music…

Kick off the festival season with a little music, more music, and poetry and music. OPUL (the marvellous James Iremonger and me) will be playing some new pieces, showcased thus far only in distant and beautiful Montreal at the Le 17e Festival de la poésie de Montréal. I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Snibbo yet but I did see Combo Combo once and was very impressed… can’t wait to hear their funky, soulful tunes again. Hope to see you there!CCC72 Flyer

 

If a Leaf Falls Press at Good Press

Very excited to be reading at this on 6 August:

If a Leaf Falls Press at Good Press

Saturday
6th August 2016
3-6pm

With readings by…

Maria Fusco reading Notes on Comic Face

nick-e melville reading slippage/pigsclap twice

Sam Riviere reading Cont. and Preferences

Mike Saunders reading george clooney will always be handsome: towards a phenomonology of George Clooney

JL Williams reading House of the Tragic Poet

New pamphlets by Crispin Best, nick-e melville, Maria Fusco and Erik Stinson will be available in limited quantities, and the long out of print If a Leaf Falls Press back catalogue will be available to browse.

http://samriviere.com/index.php?/together/if-a-leaf-falls-press/

This Is What You Shall Do

I was in New Jersey visiting my family a couple of weeks ago, and I went with my mother – who has lived in New Jersey from birth – and my 4 year old nephew, as well as my new Scottish family, to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. None of them except my sister and me had ever been there before, and it was a delight to share with them the moving stories of people from so many different places coming into my original home country, America… a place I’ve always celebrated, for all its problems, as a true melting pot of peoples, cultures and languages. It seemed especially poignant at a time when the worrying name Trump (aka the Wall Builder) was on everyone’s lips, and it was particularly interesting to see one display of political cartoons from the 1920s when America was in a political debate concerning ‘the control of racial purity’ and was in the process of limiting the influx of European immigrants.

Everything in waves, everything in cycles.

I am saddened today by the UK’s (or should I say part of the UK’s) vote to leave the EU, which has, especially since my moving to Scotland, always represented a commitment to peace, security and fluid borders in a way that made me feel so lucky to live in the UK. When I received my British citizenship, I was amazed that it also meant I could travel, live and work in so many other countries, and I have continuously benefited from the EU as an individual, as a poet and as Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library, where we have received EU funding to bring poets to Scotland from around Europe and to send Scottish poets to countries in Europe. Facing the vote to leave today feels like a turn down a dark path toward all the things I fear – lack of communication, closing of borders, isolation, mistrust of others, and so on. Even the likelihood of another Scottish referendum and the chance that Scotland at least could find a way to stay in the EU, while exciting, emphasises the deep split between the thinking in Scotland and England that continues to surprise and concern me. I hope that whatever happens we can seek to see connections rather than differences in one another.

“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.” ― Walt Whitman

ALL SYSTEMS… go

Opening Bracket / Closing Bracket:

An Object Lesson in Levitation

by JL Williams, performed on 17 February 2016 at Cooper Gallery

It was very special to have the opportunity to write and perform the new text

Opening Bracket / Closing Bracket: An Object Lesson in Levitation

at Cooper Gallery last week, and especially wonderful to work with the amazing team at the gallery and the dancers Jack Webb and Madira Gregurek.  It was my first experience collaborating with dancers in this way and though just a dipping of the toe in the water, it worked beautifully and I look forward to exploring this combination of forms again in future.

I hope you enjoy the text and recording, and additional details about the project, which you can find here.

Cooper Gallery DJCAD University of Dundee.

Photographer: Kathryn Rattray

Dance & Poetry // ALL SYSTEMS… go

Dance by Jack Webb and Madira Gregurek

Poetry by JL Williams

Performed in response to ALL SYSTEMS… go in Cooper Gallery including works by Liam Gillick & Anton Vidokle, Dominic Watson and Miranda Pennell.

 

 

Drag Queen Poetry: The Library is Open!

I was so honoured to host the recent Drag Queen Poetry event at the Scottish Poetry Library.  When I first heard Iain Morrison reading his new sequence of Drag Queen poems in 2015, I knew they needed to be heard by more people.  Iain’s brilliant friend, poet and artist Jean-François Krebs, came on board and American poet Andy Emitt agreed to join us via Skype, and the rest is history.  Read more about it here and here and here.  The audience made it very clear to us that they appreciated the aesthetically-astute and intellectually-rigorous engagement with the subject combined with the sheer pleasure of the experience; poetry, music, dancing, prancing and of course… costumes!

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(c) Chris Scott 2016

TRG3 and BAS8

It’s been, according to our calculations, about four years since the extraordinary artist Catherine Street and I began working together.  We’ve been exploring art, writing and performance and are delighted to have submitted one of the three proposals selected for this year’s TRG3 residencies at Talbot Rice Gallery.  We have also been invited to be writers-in-residence for the Edinburgh leg of the British Art Show 8 and had our first writing session in Talbot Rice yesterday, which was super fun.  We’ll have more details about what we are writing and where you can read it very soon.

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Two Minute Manifesto

There’s a delicious collection of minds and hearts – David Greig (new Artistic Director of the Lyceum Theatre!), Zinnie Harris, Tiffany Jenkins, Dominic Hinde and Chrissy Barnacle – all on stage at the Traverse tomorrow night for the newest instalment of Two Minute Manifesto – and me doing a poem or two.  Do join us!

  

Poetry Flashmob in Göttingen and other delights…

It’s been a busy few months!  Check out the links for some text, reviews and recordings.  
 Recording of Our Real Red Selves book launch at Golden Hare Bookshop here

The Process of Being piece that Catherine Street and I performed at the Cooper Gallery in Dundee, here

Review of the Hidden Door 2015 Unforeseen event Catherine Street and I were involved in, here

Video from Neu Reekie at the Fruitmarket Gallery in celebration of artist Jim Lambie, here


Me reading in a women’s loo in the University Library in Göttingen as part of the Poetry Flashmob event!  First time for everything…

   

TALKFEST: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

Join us if you can, tickets are available here.  It’s such a treat to be part of this!

PRESENTED BY PLAYWRIGHTS’ STUDIO, SCOTLAND AS PART OF TALKFEST AT THE TRON
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

Closing Time by Kevin P. Gilday; Pirlie Wee Horses by JL Williams
Directed by Peter Arnott
22nd April 2015
7.45pm
Free but ticketed

A rehearsed reading of a brand new play with professional actors including Moyo Akandé, Paul Cunningham, George Docherty and Janette Foggo.

Peter Arnott and a team of actors will encounter two new plays in a live experiment. During the day, the director and actors’ immediate first response to the unseen texts as they unfold will be used to find each play’s strengths and weaknesses. Peter will then compile extracts from both plays to be presented on the same night, bringing the audience into this close encounter with new writing.

Closing Time written by Kevin P. Gilday
Pirlie Wee Horses written by JL Williams
Directed by Peter Arnott

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Until Only the Mountain Remains: Christopher Orr

I was very happy to be included in this collection of poetry and stories written in response to the beautiful work of Christopher Orr in The Beguiled Eye (15 November 2014 – 14 February 2015), an exhibition at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh.  Do catch it if you can, it’s really worth seeing in person.  You might like to have a read of the work here: Only the Mountain.

Until Only the Mountain Remains, 2010, Christopher Orr
Until Only the Mountain Remains, 2010, Christopher Orr

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SYMPOETRY on film

I feel so happy when I watch this film by Wee Dog Media documenting our SYMPOETRY: SPL Poetry Symposium last November.  Hope you enjoy it too!

Poems and Paintings on Lindisfarne

It has been wonderful working with the very talented artist Rose Strang on these collaborations.  Her paintings are so full of light and mystery, it’s a delight to respond to them poetically.  I recorded the poems and she then made these lovely films.  You can see more of Rose’s work, and find out how to purchase her gorgeous paintings, here.  Hope you enjoy!

A Poet in the Garden

At the Scottish Poetry Library we’ve been experimenting with the possibility of making short film interviews with poets. Hopefully this is the first of many. Interview and film by Julie Johnstone, in the beautiful Dunbar Close Garden across the street from the SPL. A Scottish Poetry Library Light Rhymes Production 2014.

Jerwood Opera Writing Programme

Another piece of marvellous news just came along. I have been accepted onto the 2014/2015 Jerwood Opera Writing Programme. For a long time now I have been working with amazing composers and musicians such as James Iremonger to explore how poetry and music can combine to produce new creations, and this feels like the next (huge) step. Exciting!

Jerwood Opera Writing Programme

The Jerwood Opera Writing Programme at Aldeburgh Music is designed for composers, writers and directors who have little or no experience of writing or creating opera, and who want to widen their horizons and equip themselves to create contemporary work combining music, theatre and text. Artists can be at any stage of their career. Aldeburgh Music, with its unique, inspiring environment and its growing programme of professional development for musicians and composers, has an unparalleled history of creating new opera.

2014-15 Jerwood Opera Writing Foundation Course participants announced
Aldeburgh Music and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation are delighted to announce the participants for the Jerwood Opera Writing Foundation Course 2014 – 2015.

In March 2014, Aldeburgh Music invited applications for the next Jerwood Opera Writing Foundation Course from composers, writers and directors who have little or no experience of creating opera and who want to widen their horizons and equip themselves to create contemporary work combining music, theatre and text.

The course will take place at Aldeburgh Music on the Suffolk coast and will be led by composer David Sawer and theatre and opera director and designer Stewart Laing.

From over 100 applications submitted, the following artists have been selected to take part:

Josh Armstrong (director)
Finn Beames (director/writer)
Santa Bušs (composer)
Pamela Carter (playwright)
Leyli Daryoush (writer)
Petter Ekman (composer)
Samantha Fernando (composer)
Nic Green (director/performer/artist)
Max Hoehn (writer/director)
Edmund Hunt (composer)
Jesse Jones (composer)
Sarah Lewis (composer)
Lliam Paterson (composer)
Naomi Pinnock (composer)
Richard Scott (writer/poet)
Daniel Solon (playwright)
Andrew Thomas (composer)
Shiori Usui (composer)
JL (Jennifer) Williams (poet/playwright)

The selected artists will travel to Aldeburgh for three residential courses, which will take place in November 2014, March 2015 and September 2015.

Background

The Jerwood Opera Writing Programme was launched in 2007 followed by a second installment in 2010/11. Forty participants made up of composers, writers, and directors have been given a grounding in writing new opera through a mixture of practical workshops, contributions from teachers including Giorgio Battistelli, Harrison Birtwistle, Alison Chitty, Lavinia Greenlaw, Stephen Plaice, Stephen Langridge, David Sawer and Jonathan Dove amongst others.

Following on from this, Jerwood Opera Writing Fellowships were offered, giving a unique opportunity for composers and their collaborators to receive tailor-made support for writing a new opera. Four Fellowships were awarded in 2009, giving support to composers and their collaborators during the creation of a new work.

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Neu! Reekie! at the Fruitmarket

I’m thrilled to be reading at Neu! Reekie! A Salute to the Jim Lambie Generation, on Sunday 19 October, 7.30pm at Fruitmarket Gallery. There are many delightful treats in store.

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The Wisdom of Stone

Just came across this recording done for the Edinburgh City of Literature ‘enlighten‘ project a couple years ago… funny to realise that I was writing about the life of stones even then (inspired in this case by James Hutton) and then went on to write more on this subject in Locust and Marlin, thanks to Gaston Bachelard. Have a listen here.

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Sound and Light

Exciting event coming up in Glasgow next week — Sound and Light : More fusion and fission with music and spoken word. JL Williams & James Iremonger; Mairi Lafferty & Lila Matsumoto; Tim Cooper & Sam Tongue; Alexander Hutchison & Special Guests.

Wednesday, 3 September, 8pm, Glasgow City Halls.  

More info here.

Tickets available here.

We’ll be performing a new piece called ‘Walk to the River’, which might include James playing on his new frame drum!

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Edinburgh College of Art Masters Festival 2014

I will be reading, with the fabulous artist Catherine Street and other great folks, at the Here, Right Now event this weekend as part of the Edinburgh College of Art Masters Festival 2014, all details below.  Hope to see you there!

Edinburgh College of Art Masters Festival 2014

Degree Show and Events

Find out more about the Masters Festival: www.eca.ed.ac.uk/degreeshow

Masters Festival 2014

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 Here, Right Now: Art Writing Readings more details here

Saturday 23 August, 2.00pm
Readings by Edinburgh-based artists and writers presenting new work. In collaboration with Cooper Gallery, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee. Book free tickets: www.edin.ac/1oWyctw

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Tricolour and Auld Enemies

Some other wonderful nights coming up that I’ll be reading at with fabulous poets in July…

7 July Tricolour: The monthly night at National Library of Scotland showcasing three different poetry and spoken word talents. Three different voices, three different styles, three different takes on life.  This month we are joined by J A Sutherland, JL Williams, and Carly Brown.

and

Auld Enemies: ​​7 locales : over 40 poets : a national tour of Scotland & brand new innovative poetic collaborations : a Scottish Enemies project

10 July Auld Enemies Glasgow, McChuills

Ross Sutherland & Ryan Van Winkle / Billy Letford & Colin Herd / nick-e melville & SJ Fowler
plus ​Thomas Betteridge & Neil Davidson / Elspeth Murray & JL Williams
​Katy Hastie / Antony Autumn & Calum Rodger / Iyad Hayatleh, Graeme Smith & more

 

11 July Auld Enemies Edinburgh, Summerhall

Colin Herd & Iain Morrison / Billy Letford & Ryan Van Winkle / SJ Fowler & Ross Sutherland
​nick-e melville & Jane Goldman / Dave Coates & Rachel McCrum / JL Williams & Elspeth Murray / Luke Allan & Graeme Smith / Karen Veitch & Mike Saunders / Ed Smith & Thomas MacColl / Rob McKenzie & more

 

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The Pipe Factory

I’m super excited to be taking part in the ?! Festival at The Pipe Factory in Glasgow this weekend.  I’ll be performing at 2.30pm on Sunday, but there is plenty to experience throughout the weekend including spoken and written word, screenings and BBQ.  Sweet!  Find out more here and here.

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The Written Image on Summerhall TV

An interview from a while back about our SPL and Edinburgh Printmakers collaboration project The Written Image.

Jennifer Williams : The Written Image from arts-news on Vimeo.

 

 

 

 

Bacchanales Vol 49

It hasn’t quite arrived yet but I’m looking forward to receiving my contributor’s copy of Bacchanales Vol 49. It is a science-themed issue and my poems have been translated into French by a very kind translator Isabelle Metral who I’ve only met via email. It’s all thanks to the lovely Jean-Baptiste Cabaud, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Berlin Poesiefestival last year. He is in it too!

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ALQUIMIA DEL FUEGO

Santiago Aguaded Landero, a Spanish poet, translator and academic, got in touch recently and asked if he could translate and include a couple of my poems from Condition of Fire in his new anthology ALQUIMIA DEL FUEGO. The translation process is always fascinating to me, and in this case my friend, the extraordinary poet and translator Jennifer Adcock, was incredibly generous and helped with the negotiations and the translations themselves.

You can see one of the translations here:
Black Island

And here’s Jennifer and me reading some of her poems that I worked with to make very free, sound-based translations: Translation Poetry

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Continuum

Lovely interview by Annie Rutherford with Catherine Street that came out just before our recent Continuum performance.  You can read it on The Poetry Round.

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Filmpoem Festival and Continuum

It is August so no surprise that there are a multitude of exciting events to populate your diaries with.  Let me add a couple of options, in case you’re in the mood.  It’s wonderful to be a part of these events curated by good friends and amazing artists.  Hope to see you there if you can make it, or soon anyway in the midst of festival delights and Edinburgh sunshine.

 

Opul (James Iremonger and JL WIlliams) will be performing at the Filmpoem Festival in Dunbar tomorrow.  You can download the full programme here.

 

Continuum, part of the Edinburgh Art Festival 2013, will take place at New Media Scotland (aka Inspace).  More details:

8 August 2013

Continuum

7–8pm

£4. Book tickets.

 

Continuum is an immersive, visceral experience featuring work by visual artist Catherine Street, poet JL Williams and composer improvisers Martin Parker and Owen Green.
At the heart of this performance, Street’s film Continuum derives its intense sound and images from the exhausted body of the artist. Street is shown engaged in a sensual and bodily encounter, not only with the physical world but also with the conceptual world of mathematical ideas. She probes her physical limits and at the same moment gives voice to a text that seems to explore those limits in cool theoretical terms. Live readings by Street and Williams weave hallucinatory narratives that allude to the experiential world of human perception alongside a theoretical conception of time and space. William’s rich, emotive delivery is contrasted with Street’s precise voice. Taking cues from the intense audio of the film, Green and Parker’s live performances fill the space with sound that builds in intensity over time. On engaging with this sensory experience and the sometimes disturbing impressions evoked by the performances, the audience is liable to feel a strong emotional response, perhaps of unease, fascination or exhilaration.
The film Continuum was shot by filmmakers Ben Ewart-Dean and Daniel Warren, with sound by Owen Green and performance by Catherine Street and Dmitry Ser. Initially created as part of an artist commission for the Human Race exhibition, funded by Legacy Trust UK and Creative Scotland, Continuum was first presented with support from Generator Projects, Dundee.

 

New Media Scotland

1 Crichton Street, EH8 9AB

0131 650 2750

www.mediascot.org

 

The Burning Sand at Jim Lambie’s Poetry Club

What an amazing time we had last night at the first ‘The Burning Sand’ night at Jim Lambie’s delicious new Poetry Club in Glasgow.  The beautiful Sarah Lowndes invited me to read there and it was a real honour to kick off the night with some poems about sand, love, burning sand, burning love and… Sweden!  Sarah then read some of her amazing poems on topics as varied as the alphabet and Facebook, and we sadly had to dash off to catch the last train in the middle of a fabulous set by the Domino-signed Glasgow band CORRECTO (Danny Saunders, the painter Richard Wright, Robert McCaffrey and Franz Ferdinand’s Paul Thomson), to be followed by music from DJs, including artist Torsten Lauschmann and Anna Cook.  Everyone was so lovely and kind, and It was a treat to get introduced to Bobby Gillespie from Primal Scream by Jim on the way out.  Do check out The Poetry Club and The Burning Sand… they rock.

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Opul at Click Clack Club – 20 February – Henry’s Cellar Bar

We’re excited!  Opul has been invited back to the deliriously melodious Click Clack Club, which is moving to our favourite old haunt Henry’s Cellar Bar.  Hope to see you there on Wednesday 20 February, 8pm-11.30pm.

 

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Rally & Broad!

I’m so delighted to be reading tomorrow night (Friday 18 January) at Rally & Broad along with those marvellous gentlemen Ryan Van Winkle and Alan Bissett.

I’m also delighted as it will be my first time back at the Counting House since the halcyon days of SiLENCiO, beloved cabaret of my youth… feels a little like coming home (in a David Lynch sort of way).

Hope to see you there!  SiLENCiO pic below… ah, memories… the performances!  The dresses!

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Continuum at Generator

I was lucky enough recently to be one of the performers at artist Catherine Street’s Continuum show, along with Catherine herself, Martin Parker and Owen Green.  It was hosted at the super cool Generator Projects in Dundee.  It was very cold, but very thrilling.

I’m very pleased that Catherine will be showing some of her amazing films and reading some of her amazing writing at an event in Scottish Poetry Library programme this Spring.  You’ll can book tickets for that here.

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Photo © 2012 Ross Fraser McLean

Black Lantern Music: BLM 50

Download the Black Lantern Music BLM 50: Raise the Black Lantern here, a celebration of a year of amazing music!

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The Poetry Round @ cafebabel.com

cropped-img_4073.jpgLovely Annie has posted this very nice article on cafebabel.com — Collaborative Poetry with JL Williams — thanks Annie!  Hope you enjoy.