Congratulations to Tony Frazer of Shearsman Books on the lovely new website… it looks gorgeous.
Congratulations to Tony Frazer of Shearsman Books on the lovely new website… it looks gorgeous.
And our Transatlantic Poetry Broadcast featuring American poet David Mason and Scottish Poetry Gerry Cambridge is available to watch HERE and here…
I was so pleased to see the SPL poetry workshop featured in a recent STV blog which you can read HERE, though I hope all this talk of whips doesn’t scare anyone away — it’s all very gentle really!
I had such a splendid time last weekend in Gatehouse of Fleet. James and I travelled to Lockerbie where Richard, one half of the dynamic team that runs The Bakehouse, picked us up and whisked us off through green rolling fields and blue skies to their charming village. Poet (and much more) Chrys Salt met us at the door and we were welcomed into their gorgeous home and writing centre/performance venue and fed delicious tea and cake in the sunny garden thrilling with birds and scented flowers. The reading that evening was populated by marvellous writers and poets, many of whom shared their work in the second half. We then had a tremendous dinner and went to bed glowing. The next day a walk through bluebell woods brought us to the sea, and we left that afternoon promising to return soon. I can’t recommend The Bakehouse and Gatehouse of Fleet enough (try the ice cream!) and was delighted as well to meet some of the prose writers who were in attendance at the novel-writing course also on at the weekend. Do head out for Big Lit 2014 weekend.
I’m really honoured and excited to be reading at The Bakehouse in Gatehouse of Fleet on 26 April (invite below). Please do come along if you’re near. From the Bakehouse:
Do join us to celebrate the publication of Jennifer’s second collection. it is a joy to welcome one of Scotland’s best young poets to The Bakehouse. Love Chrys and The Bakehouse Team.
The Bakehouse presents:
Saturday April 26th
7.00pm for 7.30pm
J L Williams
A rising star of the Scottish scene, American poet JL Williams’ celebrates the recent publication of her second Shearsman collection Locust and Marlin exploring the idea of home and where we come from. Her first collection, Condition of Fire (Shearsman), was inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses and a journey to the Aeolian Islands
She has been published in journals across the UK and been translated into Dutch, Spanish, French and Greek. She plays in the band Opul and is Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library.
“….star of the evening was JL Williams, with a pitch-perfect delivery that had the audience hanging on every dreamy word. Her poems were beautiful and mythic, conjuring evocative imagery that filled the room with magic.” The List,
AND OF COURSE…….
The Fickle Tupperware Bowl of Fate
aka our regular Bakehouse floor spots open to all
To book ring 01557 814175 or email email@example.com
Jonas, a very nice journalism student from Belgium, came to the library yesterday to interview me about my work here. The interview is now all in Dutch, but thought I would share it in case you have language skills or a handy online translator. You can read it here.
Wonderful and thoughtful review of Locust and Marlin by Russell Jones, first one! You can read it here.
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!
We had such a gorgeous time in London last week for the first Locust and Marlin launch. It all went very smoothly, and we even had time for tea and cake at the London Review of Books cafe and a quick visit to the a British Museum before we hopped back on the train.
It was great to see some dear old friends and to make some new ones, to hear the beautiful poems of Alasdair Paterson who was also launching his new book, Elsewhere or Thereabouts, and to see my publisher, Tony Frazer.
Can’t wait for the Edinburgh launch now! And before that two other readings coming up, details below. Hope to see you soon.
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:
And here’s Jennifer and me reading some of her poems that I worked with to make very free, sound-based translations: Translation Poetry
So enjoyed hosting Dorianne Laux and John Glenday for our first SPL/Transatlantic Poetry on Air reading last night. It was really exciting and freeing to connect to so many via the click of a button, and to hear such exquisite poetry read in that intimate and personal way. I hope we can do more in future. Have a look/listen here.
Nice post about Locust and Marlin on the lovely new blog of Anupa Gardner, the amazing artist who did the cover.
Not only do I have a poem for Valentine’s Day in this month’s issue of The List along with three marvellous poets — William Letford, Katherine McMahon and Tracey S Rosenberg, but I also have received one of the best, well probably THE best, review of my life based on a reading I gave recently at Jem Rolls’ and Bram E Gieben’s fabulous new night The Accelerator:
“The star of the evening was JL Williams, with a pitch-perfect delivery that had the audience hanging on every dreamy word. Her poems were beautiful and mythic, conjuring evocative imagery that filled the room with magic.”
So very nice, thank you!
I’m not usually a big fan of the way internet sites monitor your interests and then suggest items to you that you might like to buy, however I was tickled today when my colleague, Colin Waters, pointed out that at the bottom of one of the pages he was looking at, my new book, Locust and Marlin, appeared…
Am I allowed to like Big Brother when he’s working in my favour?!
I’m looking forward to a few readings in the new year, and hopefully a book launch for Locust and Marlin to announce soon.
For now I can invite you to two events I’ll be reading at:
The Accelerator at The Canon’s Gait, 232 Canongate, Wednesday 8 January, 8.30 pm – 10.30 pm, £4 / £3
Henderson’s Poetry and Coffee, Henderson’s Cafe, 94 Hanover Street, Thursday 16 January, 10:30 am
Have a gorgeous holiday season, and I hope to see you soon!
It’s fabulous to see all the text art / visual poetry that seems to be on show in Edinburgh at the minute… some sort of delicious synchronicity. Yesterday I went with my friend, the artist Catherine Street, to see The Dark Would at Summerhall where there is an extraordinary collection of work on show including some great pieces by Tony Lopez and Caroline Bergvall. Catherine has a piece in the book itself which accompanies the exhibition, or which the exhibition has been born out of.
Then there is the Louise Bourgeois at the Fruitmarket and Modern One, and of course our Written Image exhibition at Edinburgh Printmakers until the 21st of December… a city-wide treasure of words and art!
It was very special to be part of the Wee Small Hours event as part of the Fruitmarket Gallery’s exhibition, Louise Bourgeois: I Give Everything Away. Amazing workshops, poetry readings, films and performances kept us up throughout the night and we even managed to play ‘light as a feather, stiff as a board’ at about 5.30am… I’m sure Louise was helping!
Lovely review by Billy Watson of the recent Blind Poetics which I had a chance to read at and very much enjoyed… Read it here.
The filmmaker Lukasz Gasiorowski produced this beautiful video for us after filming at our Scottish Poetry Library My Life in Poetry & Perfume event at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in May. The event featured Alex Musgrave, perfume expert and writer, and James Iremonger and Atzi playing the music you hear in the film.
I’ve been writing down my recent thoughts about writing and publishing, some gleaned from doing and some from conversations with poets and publishers, and thought I would post them in case they’re useful for anyone.
Poetry Notes by JL Williams
“Nothing forced works.” Kay Ryan
Scottish Poetry Library
Poetry Library Southbank Centre
This is an interview I did for Summerhall TV with the poet Gerry Loose, one of our SPL Walking With Poets residents. He talks about the event we did at Edinburgh International Book Festival in which he discussed three of his favourite nature poems, and the history of Scottish nature poetry… all in 55 minutes! Watch here.
It was an honour and a joy to spend time with US poet Kay Ryan when she was over for the Edinburgh International Book Festival. She is so beautiful, brilliant and funny, and I felt that listening to her was like sitting at the feet of a guru whose every insight made little spangles of enlightenment dazzle in my mind. I hope you enjoy if you have some time to listen to our conversation. Listen here.
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.
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.
Continuum, part of the Edinburgh Art Festival 2013, will take place at New Media Scotland (aka Inspace). More details:
8 August 2013
£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
New Scottish Poetry Podcast up, an interview with Polish poet Tadeusz Dabrowski. Listen here.
Poesiefestival Berlin: What an amazing festival! I was only there for a few days, but in that short space of time I met so many extraordinary poets from around the world… many of these poets also working as the festival directors, publishers and editors helping to keep poetry alive and well in their countries. Two of my favourite events were this one:
and this one:
I met the French poet Jean-Baptiste Cabaud and heard about his phenomenal work with poetry, music and film… check out one project here: Saint Octobre. I caught up with Tadeusz Dąbrowski, a Polish poet who I had the chance to interview at the SPL last year (podcast coming soon!), and finally met Nikola Madzirov, a Macedonian poet I’ve been hearing wonderful things about for ages… and he’s just as wonderful as everyone says! I spent time with poets Chris McCabe and Bea Colley from the Poetry Library and Southbank Centre in London, and we shared in the beautiful sunny poetical delights in pollen-drenched, bird song-echoing Berlin. Fellow Shearsman poet and translator Catherine Hales very kindly helped translate some of the German poetry for me on the first night of the festival, and overall I was humbled and awed by what seemed to be everyone else’s mastery of at least three languages… how silly to only know one! Note to self, things to do: learn five other languages, write a novel, write 20 more poems, do some yoga, etc. etc. I feel so lucky to have made all these new connections and look forward to continuing inspiration from these new poetry friends. Dankeschön Poesiefestival Berlin!
PS Guess who came into the Poetry Library today? Stephen Burt! If you don’t know Stephen, check him out — he’s totally awesome. Plus, he had glittery nail polish on. Hero! Also, he was here in Edinburgh being IN a TED talk. As in, being one of the TED speakers. Read about it here: STEPHEN BURT at TED (video to come soon). How cool is that? I bought his new book, Belmont, hot off the press from Graywolf, and he very kindly bought one of mine. Sweet.
I’m honoured to have some poems in the current issue of the very fine journal Edinburgh Review. Not only is it a beautiful publication, but it also happens to have the theme of 50 Years of New Playwriting in Scotland, and to feature many poets I had the pleasure of working with during my years at the Traverse Theatre. So nice!
Couple of readings coming up:
I’ll be at 10RED at the Persevere in Leith tonight, with a host of delightful poets.
Also very pleased to be reading with Rosemary Hector and Ken Cockburn at Henderson’s Cafe on Hanover Street on 14 March at 10.30am.
Hope to see you there, or soon!
I feel very lucky to have had one of my poems translated into Dutch by the translator Susan Ridder, and published in the magazine Awater, the largest literary magazine in the Netherlands. It’s an honour to have been included alongside amazing poets Jen Hadfield, Charlotte Runcie and Ellen McAteer. You can read the original article in translation and more about it on Ellen’s Blog.
It makes me so sad to read of ignorance like this and like this. I went to school. I even got to read poetry in school, and it was wonderful. But it was in my local public library where I first remember falling in love with a book of poetry; taking it home, cherishing the words, marvelling at the beauty contained within those pages which even as a child I had access to… to my delight and with an engendering of empowerment. And that generosity, the library’s generosity, the library’s existence, contributed to a lifetime of reading, writing, buying books, working in the arts, working, as I do now, in a very special library — the Scottish Poetry Library, whose holdings and activities bring poetry and joy to more than thousands of people around the world… who then go on to invest even more of themselves, and often their money, into poetry and literature. The number of times I’ve heard people say that they’re taking a look at a book in the library which they’ll then go on to purchase if they love it in order to have it in their own personal collection… the number of events we host in which poets are celebrated and their books are purchased… to say that libraries don’t contribute not only to the encouragement of the very act of reading but also to the act of the financial support of writers is ludicrous. The Scottish Poetry Library, like most other libraries, couldn’t exist without public funding, and what a loss it would be if it ever ceased to exist. What a loss it is to think of the children in Moray not having a place to go where they can discover the power and poignancy of words for themselves. What a loss it is to think of a community without support for its artists, its theatre makers, its writers, its poets and the people who would like to experience the beauty of what these makers create. I have yet to meet an artist or writer who doesn’t feel burdened by the need to make a living, to submit their time and creativity to the hungry maw of the commercial world in which we live, and it is through funding, and the occasional gift of patronage in its various guises, that many artists and writers find a tiny oasis in which to breathe, think, make. Shame on those who seem to think we live in a world where there is no more poverty, where everyone can afford to buy a book, where everyone is fit and able to participate in the marketplace. Shame on those who think a poet could make enough money to live on by selling their books (though wouldn’t it be nice!). Shame on those who would rather see an artist submit to market forces than be offered the gift of freedom to create. My first book, Condition of Fire, was written thanks to an Edwin Morgan Travel Bursary that allowed me to go to an extraordinary place and take the time to be and see and experience and taste and feel and write, and write, which I would not otherwise have been able to afford to do. I’d like to think that was a worthwhile use of that money. I’d like to think that the many kind people who have bought my book think it was a worthwhile use of that money, and also the people who take my book out of the library. I do think that the arts, at least in the world we’re living in, need public support — politically, physically, financially. Yes, we’ve all been to that performance or read that poem written on a funded residency that didn’t do it for us, or seen that example of public art that didn’t add to the beauty of its surrounds. But haven’t we, most of us, also seen something that’s taken our breath away, heard music that’s made us weep, read a book that’s made us remember a lost moment of joy… in a library, in a theatre that’s been publicly-funded, in a concert hall that couldn’t exist without the help of an arts council. And finally, to say that because libraries are old means they’re now useless is also mind-boggling, and another sad reflection of our culture which doesn’t seem to value age in any of its forms, especially in its older people; one of our greatest resources… the beautiful, wrinkled, aged, storied wise who so often are overlooked rather than celebrated and learned from. And it’s worth the investment of looking after them, and of spending time with them, and of talking to them about the poems they love… a conversation you could probably have for free.
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.
Interview about creative writing courses: Cafe Babel Poetry
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!
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.
Photo © 2012 Ross Fraser McLean
Very nice review of the Hogmanay event I was reading at on the 1st — what fun! Sharing the stage with the marvellous poets Harry Giles, Jenny Lindsay and William Letford, as well as some excellent musicians. Fabulous way to start 2012.
Download the Black Lantern Music BLM 50: Raise the Black Lantern here, a celebration of a year of amazing music!
Lovely Annie has posted this very nice article on cafebabel.com — Collaborative Poetry with JL Williams — thanks Annie! Hope you enjoy.
My most recent SPL podcast, a conversation with poet/apiarist Sean Borodale. Enjoy!
The marvellous Kate Tough has posted her responses to the “Next Big Thing” survey here.
My answers and links to new writers will be going up shortly, but in the meantime check out her fascinating response. Can’t wait to read the book. Thanks Kate!
My newest podcast is up on the SPL website. It’s a conversation with the amazing American poet Marie Howe. Listen here.
So delighted to be working on a collaboration with artist and writer Catherine Street for the Continuum event happening on the 10th of November at Generator in Dundee, all details here. Come if you can! It features a number of amazing artists and I think it’s going to be really special.