land of black mountains

it seems like ages ago now but just a few weeks ago i was on a mountaintop in the north of Montenegro! (where is that, one person asked me… i know, i know, i had to look it up). well it is here, just start at Rome, cross Italy and drift across the Adriatic Sea

what a remarkably beautiful country!

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Montenegro

i flew into Dubrovnik, and was picked up to my surprise by the glamorous Montenegrin poet Tanja Bakić who had kindly come all the way from her home in the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica to meet me

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the six-hour drive to Bijelo Polje, where the Evenings of Ratkovic Poetry Festival would be taking place, was a dream of white canyons laced by glittering turquoise rivers, steep emerald mountain slopes, oncoming cars and motorcycles racing round tight bends at high speed

so many brilliant poets, and the mountains, the haystacks, the rivers, the mountains!!!

Festival Programme

cheapest wine and cigarettes since, last time you could smoke inside since, waiters in white shirts black trousers, the town square, the fountains, the men in the river, the wild cats, the rottweiler in the cage, the chicken by the river, the cow with the bell round her neck on top of the mountain in the meadow of wildflowers, the muddy path, the Turkish coffee, the almonds and walnuts, the REAL HAYSTACKS, the heat, the frightening cemetery, the ancient churches, the peeling frescoes, the orthodox boy holding the medieval bible that no one could look at but believers, the library on the mountaintop, the cabbage salad, the old-fashioned music, the wedding in the hotel, the mountains, the mountains

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when I left I had a couple of nights in Dubrovnik before flying home, unbelievable white polished city out of time and dreams and the island of Lokrum with its rocky beaches trawled by peacocks, crumbling monastery, white paths to paradise, giant aloe and curse and memory and hunger and thunder over sea

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run little heart up the straightest path

 

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.

 

 

Creative Conversations

I’m so pleased to be joining Colin Herd for the Creative Conversations event at the University Chapel at the University of Glasgow tomorrow (Monday 22 January). Colin has been such a supportive and brilliant friend, poet, editor and curator for many years and someone I enjoy talking with about poetry and the world, so it will be a real pleasure to chat with him. Also having done my MLitt in Creative Writing at Glasgow, it is always wonderful to return there and remember those halcyon days! Meet the students! See what’s new and old on Byres Road!

Please join us – you can bring your lunch. I’ve also heard that it can be chilly so wrap up warm.

Creative Conversations

‌Monday 22 January
1 – 2 PM University Chapel
Free & Open to the Public

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Adjacent Pineapple

I had such a nice time reading at Colin Herd‘s new/old night Snack Revenge a couple weeks back (more details here), and really enjoyed meeting and hearing the forceful, crackling work of the poet Judith Goldman. Sadly, the marvellous Terese Svoboda wasn’t able to make it, but we had a full house in the room I used to attend classes in when I was doing the MLitt some years back. Colin has been a force for good in the Scottish poetry scene for years now, and I don’t know how he manages to keep so many balls in the air, but he is lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow (while commuting through from Edinburgh), running Snack Revenge, has just started this fabulous publication called Adjacent Pineapple and his new book came out and was delightfully shared at a triple book launch with impressive readings also from Daisy Lafarge and Sam Riviere at Rhubaba last Friday. I am filled with admiration! We had a really interesting conversation on the way home about the lack of SCOTTISH POETICS and whether there should be some work done to encourage this. I think, yes!

Have a read of my contribution to the first Adjacent Pineapple here.

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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.

 

After Economy, London Reading

I’ll be reading from After Economy this Tuesday, 9 May, in London at the Shearsman Reading Series, Swedenborg Hall, 20/21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH. It starts at 7.30pm.

I’m very honoured to be reading with Josephine Balmer, Alice Kavounas, and special guest, Yang Lian.

 

More details are available here and here. Please come along if you’re in town.

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The New Life

My dear friend and mentor Robyn Marsack sent me the most exquisite gift the other day. She said it was a present that she had been planning to give me on the evening of my book launch, but thought I might like to be able to wear it on the night… which I very much do, and as you can see it goes beautifully with the sparkling dress I’ll be wearing (thanks Maddy!). It is this:

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a precious wearable artwork by the poet Thomas A. Clark. It got me thinking about Dante, and La Vita Nuova, ‘The New Life’, in Italian, or Vita Nova in LatinI did not learn as much as I would have liked in my challenging Italian class at Wellesley College, but one stanza at least stayed in my mind, which is just as useful when travelling in Italy as being able to ask for a cappuccino. These are the first three lines of Dante’s Divina Commedia:

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita

mi ritrovai per una selva oscura

ché la diritta via era smarrita.

Also while at Wellesley, I had the privilege of studying with the poet Frank Bidart, who was the first person to introduce me to the poetry of his friend Louise Glück. It was love at first read, and she is one of those poets whose voice I will never get out of my head.

This became especially, hauntingly clear to me, as… realising that there was a coming together of universal threads going on, I remembered that one of if not the first book of Louise’s that we’d read in Frank’s class was Vita Nova, a book ‘that exists in the long moment of spring’, or so says its inside cover. It’s an Orpheus and Eurydice book, but also a book about relationships, and a book about change, a book about new life.

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(You can see I’ve been carrying it around with me for a while!) So, here’s the thing… in the second-to-last poem in the collection, which I haven’t read for some time, maybe years, there is the line:

…By the stone fountain

the willows are singing again

with unspeakable tenderness, trailing their leaves

in the radiant water.

and it rather took my breath away as I realised that the second-to-last poem in my book ends with the line:

sometimes i feel a breath, a hand

trailing its fingers in the silver water

It was quite startling, and moving, to feel the echo of the words of this poet I so admired in my youth, who still means so much to me, ringing through my words today, and to feel the thoughtfulness of another woman I admire so greatly, Robyn Marsack, sharing the precious gift of the work of another poet I admire, Thomas A. Clark, leading me to shiver at the link to the work of yet another poet, one who retains his place in history as one of the greatest of poets, Dante. This is the radiant water, the silver river of poetry, and I feel so lucky to find it flowing all around.

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If you’d like to experience Dante’s Wristband in real life, and meet Robyn, and hear some poetry, and see some sparkles, and drink some sparkles, and wear some sparkles yourself, do come along to the launch this Wednesday evening. You can book your place here.

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A Visit to a Land of Sea and Song: Poetry on North Uist

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It was such a delight to spend a few days on North Uist with the poet Pauline Prior-Pitt at the end of March. She kindly invited me to visit her and the writing group she nurtures at the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre. Thanks to support from the Scottish Book Trust’s Live Literature Fund, I was able to fly from Glasgow Airport to Benbecula, and in less than an hour I was transported from the big city to an otherworldly dreamscape. With some views reminiscent of a land before or long after mankind or of the time of Noah’s floods, there is somehow more water than land everywhere one looks. A strong wind blew through our hair and the hair of the ponies in a nearby field when Pauline met me at the tiny airport, and our first stop was at a well-stocked local deli to have a look at the map. We then drove on to a lovely hotel in Lochmaddy called Hamersay House (highly recommended – so clean and spacious, and very supportive of my vegan diet!).

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Lochmaddy is also where Taigh Chearsabhagh is, and Pauline took me there for lunch and a tour of the gallery space and teaching spaces where the art college runs its studios and classes, with plenty of gorgeous work-in-progress on display… images of the sea, and art made of stuff washed up by the sea.

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That evening I was back in the gallery to give a reading to an extremely attentive and generous audience, who also took turns reading their own poems and poem choices. I read from my new collection, After Economy, for the first time… it was wonderful that it had its debut in such a remote place! We were treated to a heart-achingly beautiful Gaelic folk song by the writer and singer Cathie Laing, and another highlight was Pauline’s reading of some new sea-inspired poems in which she speaks as the sea, with such sensual and evocative language that I still feel stroked by her sea-words.

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The next day was so rainy that it felt as if the little land there was could all run into the sea at any moment, and we braved the weather and managed to visit a number of fascinating prehistoric and historic sites of interest, exploring brochs, barps and standing stones:

On Saturday I gave a writing workshop about entering into artworks and writing in dialogue with them, and the pieces generated by Pauline’s writing group were brilliant, our conversation stimulating and the general feeling one of joy to be creating together in such a special place. Cathie was in attendance and I was thrilled that at my request she sang us a few more songs to close the session. After another delicious lunch at the gallery we drove off to explore some of the beaches in Berneray, and I’ve never experienced anything quite like it – the white, untouched tracts of sand stretching far into the distance, the crashing aquamarine sea, the icy wind making your body ache and thrill.

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There was something so beautiful but also haunting about the landscape… we found a hill by the sea, surrounded by white sand, covered in grass and sheep dung and sheep bones. One could lose oneself to nature here and it was a humbling experience, especially combined with the knowledge that people had lived and loved and dreamed on that tiny, windswept, loch-laden island for thousands of years.

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We had a wonderful vegan meal with Pauline and her husband Robert that evening, and were impressed by their not one but two artist’s sheds/studios in the back garden and Pauline’s attic ‘Room of One’s Own’. The conversation ranged from personal histories to creativity to philosophy to island life and back again, and it felt we were in a place where time was different and there was endless space to think, also where relationships were so important and community was treasured. Something very striking was the sense that the ages are not separated on the island the way they are in our cities… in the grocery store I saw people of all ages interacting, grannies looking after babies chatting to teenagers in a way that touched me – these people were in community with one another, they lived near one another and knew one another and looked after one another.

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Soon it was time to leave but I’ll keep dreaming of that sea-drenched island with its white beaches, its sandy, lacy frills and hems, its houses of seaweed and shell, and its people full of stories and song.

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Many thanks to Pauline, to everyone who came along to the reading and the writing group, and to Live Literature at the Scottish Book Trust for making it possible.

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Expenses Tip for Live Literature Writers:

This was quite an expensive trip and only made possible because of the generous support of the Live Literature Fund, which is so brilliant because it makes events like this possible in places where it might otherwise be very difficult to bring writers. In line with how the scheme works, I had to buy my plane tickets and food myself and claim that money back after the trip. It’s worth, if possible, trying to plan for these sorts of trips so you’re not in the red for the time between the spending of the money and the reimbursement. Easier said than done, though the SBT is great at processing the expenses claim (thanks Kay and Jackie!). Another tip that I’ve found makes my life easier is to have a separate envelope or folder in my handbag where I put all my expenses and travel receipts, so that it’s quick and easy at the end of the trip to package these up and send them in. In fact, in this instance, as the trip was a more complicated one, I even made a little Excel budget to help me total everything up. Perhaps this is a sign that I’ve been working in arts administration for too long!

 

 

 

 

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

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

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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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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/

Poetry, poetry and more poetry!

So much has been happening lately that I have not had time to share.  I will include some links in this post to recent events and excitements.

I had this article about borders, passports and writers working abroad in politically-complicated countries published in The Bottle Imp, a wonderful online journal that exists to promote and support the teaching and study of Scottish literature and language.

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Reading at Drawn & Quarterly Bookshop, Montreal

I’m just back from a trip to Montreal to read and perform at the fabulous 17e Festival de la poésie de Montréal.  Here is a blog that came out just before the festival and my own travel blog for the SPL website here.

I have a poem in the lovely anthology Edinburgh Unsung, which you can read here.  The full anthology is here, and you can read more about the project here.

You can take a look here at a blog about the Literary Europe Live platform that the SPL is now part of and me in the video doing a couple of haiku answers for the camera:

Kosmopolis. LAF Meeting from CCCB on Vimeo.

And I found some videos from the wonderful Canadian Innu Poetry Exchange that I was a part of last year at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.  You can hear us talking a little about the project here:

and watch the whole event here:

 

Hope you enjoy this wee update and that your own projects are proliferating.

 

 

British Art Show 8

The blog has gone up introducing the project that Catherine Street and I will be doing as writers-in-residence for the Edinburgh leg of this year’s British Art Show.  You can read about our ‘live writing sessions’ here, and find the link where you’ll be able to watch the three live writing sessions from anywhere in the world.  After each writing session, new texts edited from the live writing will appear on the BAS8 blog.

And here is a wee video of us talking about the project:

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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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Aye Write! 2015

It’s really a pleasure to be reading at two events at Aye Write! this year. The first will be on 18 April at 6pm.  It’s the pre-launch for ‘Triptych: Our Real Red Selves’ out with Vagabond Voices, with myself, Harry Giles and Marion McCready. This new series is inspired by the beautiful Penguin Modern Poets books that were published in the late 1960s and 70s, and this first Triptych will feature my war poems collection ‘The History of Fire’, Harry’s ‘Drone’ poems and Marion’s poems about childbirth – plenty of passion and hope, fire and blood, humour and wonderment!

Details here.

The second will be the Best Scottish Poems 2014 launch, a free event on the evening of 19 April featuring Claire Askew, Richie McCaffery, Chris Powici, myself and more.

Details here.

Hope to see you at either or both!

Image by Jen Hadfield

Image by Jen Hadfield.

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!

“The Writer’s Life” with JL Williams

On 17 February, at the CCA in Glasgow, I will be reading some of my poems and talking about what it’s like to be a poet at this event for the Scottish Writers’ Centre, which is a fabulous organisation that supports writers!

Please do join us if you’re in the Wild West that evening, and take a look at the rest of their exciting programme.

Tuesday 17th February 2015; 7pm to 8.30pm,

CCA Club Room, Glasgow:

“The Writer’s Life” with JL Williams

Jennifer Williams

JL Williams has found publication in journals such as Poetry Wales, The WolfEdinburgh Review, Magma, Fulcrum, and Stand. Her poetry has been translated into Greek, French, Spanish, and Dutch, and she has translated poetry from Spanish and Greek.

Jennifer’s poems have been featured in the New Writing Scotland 30 anthology and in the SPL’sBest Scottish Poems 2011 and 2013 anthologies. She is particularly interested in cross-form work, and has collaborated with artists, musicians, and filmmakers. Jennifer 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.

In September 2009, she journeyed to the Aeolian Isles to write a collection inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, entitled Condition of Fire (published by Shearsman Books in 2011). Jennifer’s second collection,Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014), explores the idea of home and where we come from. She plays in the band Opul, and is Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library.

See http://www.jlwilliamspoetry.co.uk.

Tickets: £6 (£3 for concessions). Free to SWC members.

Burns and Feminism

I had the pleasure of attending the Med-Chi Burns Supper on Friday.  I was there to deliver a ‘Reply to the Toast to the Lassies’ that I hope would make my Wellesley College compatriots proud.

The Tools of the Trade anthology is mentioned; I couldn’t resist as I was speaking to a room full of doctors!

Here is the recording, if you’d like a listen:

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!

Mirrorball at the CCA

So pleased to be reading alongside two fabulous poets next week at the CCA in Glasgow.  Do join us if you’re free.

Mirrorball

Date Thursday 30th October 2014 – 7:00pm
CCA Clubroom, 350 Sauciehall Street

£5 on the door, SMM members free,
All ages

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Paul Farley was born in Liverpool in 1965 and studied at the Chelsea School of Art. He has published four books with Picador: The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You (which was awarded the Somerset Maugham Award and a Forward Prize in 1998); The Ice Age (winner of the 2002 Whitbread Poetry Prize, and a Poetry Book Society Choice); and Tramp in Flames, which was short-listed for the International Griffin Poetry Prize in 2007 and the T.S. Eliot Prize. In 2009 he received the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and a Travelling Scholarship from the Society of Authors. As a broadcaster he has written and presented many arts, feature and documentary programmes for BBC radio and television, including Radio 4’s The Echo Chamber. His most recent collection is The Dark Film, which was a Poetry Book Society Choice in 2012, and in 2013 he was awarded a Cholmondeley Prize. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and his Selected Poems appeared in 2014.

Brian Johnstone is a poet whose work has appeared throughout Scotland, in the UK, America and internationally. He has published six collections, most recently The Book of Belongings (2009) and Dry Stone Work (2014), both Arc Publications. His poems have been translated into over ten languages; in 2009 Terra Incognita, a chapbook in Italian translation, was published by L’Officina (Vicenza). In 2014 his work will appear on The Poetry Archive website. A founder and former Director of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, he has appeared at numerous international poetry festivals, from Macedonia to Nicaragua, and venues across the UK.

JL Williams was born in New Jersey and studied at Wellesley College and on the MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. In September 2009 she journeyed to the Aeolian Isles to write a collection inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Condition of Fire (Shearsman Books, 2011). Her second collection, Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014), explores the idea of home and where we come from and has just been nominated for 2014 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award. JL Williams performs in the band Opul and is Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library.

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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