San Diego Poetry Annual

How wonderful to receive in the post this year’s edition of the San Diego Poetry Annual with Juana Adcock’s gorgeous poem Malquisto right at the front, and my English translation of it on the next page. I’m officially a translator now! It was especially exciting seeing my bio in the back in Spanish. You can buy the book here.


No Rhymes, No Reason at the National Museum

I’m really excited to have been asked to read tomorrow night at the Museum Lates event at the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street. I’ll be reading between 9pm and 9.45pm, a new long poem about Catherine the Great and a Japanese sailor. Lots more on — hope to see you there.


Neu! Reekie! JL Williams Drawing by Artist Jenny Soep

Gorgeous drawing by the artist Jenny Soep who was at Neu! Reekie! at Jim Lambie’s Poetry Club in Glasgow when I read there recently.

I love how she incorporates quotations from the poems into the drawing — super cool.


David Pollock on the Village Pub Theatre

‘It’s a rough and ready chance to enjoy work for what it is’

Published on Thursday 20 September 2012 03:48

David Pollock on the rise of village pub theatre.


“It’s easy to moan about money,” says playwright James Ley, “but it’s important to have a ‘nothing comes from nothing’ attitude too.” To this end he started the Village Pub Theatre back in June as part of the Leith Festival, with some of the finest young playwrights and writers in Scotland showcasing their work every month or so through a group of professional actors under the direction of Caitlin Skinner. All this while the regulars go on drinking and laughing next door.

It’s the theatrical equivalent of putting on an art exhibition in a warehouse space or a gig in a pub basement, a happening in defiance of the fact there’s next to no budget. It’s not a political statement – in fact Ley says he hopes Creative Scotland might provide some funds for larger events come next year’s Leith Festival – but it definitely is a reaction to the times. Village Pub Theatre reflects the fact there are as many voices as ever clamouring to be heard, but that tightly squeezed theatres aren’t able to accommodate as many as they might like.

The list of those involved will please any follower of Scottish theatre. Alongside Ley himself, Morna Pearson and Catherine Grosvenor have written, as well as Colin Bell and poet JL Williams, whom Ley describes as “a great actress, her performance was a bit of a hit”. Jenna Watt’s wonderful, Fringe First-winning Flâneurs also received early exposure at Village Pub Theatre, and actors have included Andrew Dallmeyer, Gill Robertson and Louise Ludgate.

Ley says Orla O’Loughlin and Hamish Pirie at the Traverse Theatre have actively encouraged him, coming along to see the work and putting him on to writers, and that Playwrights Studio Scotland has helped with a small grant to pay the expenses of volunteer creatives. “It’s definitely a workshop,” he says of a format that largely consists of smaller pieces, “but it’s also a rough-and-ready chance to see work and enjoy it for what it is, because so many writers have so much work that never sees the light of day.”

It also seems to be an unintentional reminder that, while battles are fought and conversations are had elsewhere about Scottish arts funding, the desire and urge to communicate of the country’s theatre community will find a way for the message to reach its audience.

• The next Village Pub Theatre event is at the Village, Edinburgh on 28 September.

Anatomy and Village Pub Theatre

I led a workshop for Anatomy this morning on Writing for Performance that went beautifully and was so pleased with the writing that came out of it.  Thanks so much for those who came and took part, and to the wonderful Anatomy folks for asking me to be a part of it.  Do check out the evening itself tomorrow night.  Sadly I won’t be there but happily I’ll be doing some performing of my own at the Village Pub Theatre in Leith; reading out my own work and some by the artist Catherine Street, alongside a lot of other exciting work.  Hope to see you there, or that you can get to Anatomy.

Interview with Poet Judy Brown on the SPL Podcast

My first SPL Podcast is now out; an interview at the Wordsworth Trust with the poet Judy Brown. Music by James Iremonger. Hope you enjoy.

Neu! Reekie!

What fun to read at Neu! Reekie! in Glasgow last night, at Jim Lambie’s beautiful new Poetry Club.  Thanks to Michael and Kevin, and to Jim, and to the massive, super hip audience.

SPL Interview by Colin Waters with Ryan Van Winkle and JL Williams

New podcast up on the SPL website: SPL Interview by Colin Waters with Ryan Van Winkle and JL Williams.

New Writing Scotland and Gutter


Delighted to have received copies of New Writing Scotland and Gutter this week You can find a poem or two of mine in them, and so much great work by other writers. Enjoy!

The Village Pub Theatre – July

Getting really excited about this month’s Village Pub Theatre!  There’s a social this evening, and readings of new work by Morna Pearson, James Ley, Colin Bell, Sam Siggs and myself on Friday and Saturday.  Hope to see you there!

2012 Unbound Press Flash Fiction Award

Delighted to find out that my entry for the 2012 Unbound Press Flash Fiction competition was shortlisted.  Somehow this makes me feel more justified for continuing to explore other forms as well as poetry, not that a writer should need justification for such a thing but it’s nice!  I believe a new short play of mine is going to have a reading soon as well.  More details on that to come.


StAnza’s Digital Slam

Voting is now open on StAnza’s Digital Slam – I’ve been shortlisted, as have many other friends and wonderful poets, so do vote now!

New Events Post Up at the Scottish Poetry Library

My second post for the SPL is now up, hope you enjoy!  Turkmen Poet Ak Welsapar Visit the Library


Ak Welsapar

Independent Readings

I’m delighted to be reading at two events this week, both themed for the 4th of July. One is 10RED at the Persevere in Leith on Wednesday night, where I’m honoured to be reading Whitman, and one at the new Looking Glass Books on Friday night, where I’ll be reading my own poems about America, the homeland. Hope to see you there!



Gutter 07

Three of my poems accepted for the next issue of Gutter Magazine, launching this year at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Word on the street is it’s going to have a gold lame cover – fabulous!


gutter 7

IMAGO Scottish Poetry Library Poem of the Moment 7 June 2012

Imago, the poem from Condition of Fire selected by Roddy Lumsden for the Scottish Poetry Library Best Scottish Poems 2011 Anthology, featured as Poem of the Moment on the SPL Website, 7 June 2012.  Exciting!

JL Williams reading at The Village Pub Theatre

I will be reading a short piece called CIRC tomorrow night (Thursday 14 June) at 8pm at The Village Pub in Leith as part of James Ley’s wonderful new project called ‘The Village Pub Theatre‘.  We enjoyed a marvellous reading of Colin Bell’s play Best Kept Small Town last night, and tonight there is work by Morna Pearson, James Ley and Ripping Scripts, and tomorrow night also on will be Jenna Watt, Morna Pearson and Catherine Grosvenor.

It’s a fabulous space, so many bright stars and happy faces to see and a super initiative that will hopefully be the beginning of a regular event; the sort of thing folks will talk about fondly in future… I was there when…  hope to see you there!


How To Perform Your Writing

This article by the lovely Kirsty Logan is now published – I contributed some quotations, as did the wonderful writer Kirstin Innes. Enjoy! How To Perform Your Writing


Photo 33

First Blog Post as Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library

My first blog post at the Scottish Poetry Library went up last week.  You can read it here.



From Glasgow to Saturn Issue 26

Have a poem in the latest edition of the beautifully edited and produced online journal From Glasgow to Saturn.  You can download Issue 26 for free.  Many thanks to the editors.  

Best Scottish Poems 2011

Special Note: This poem will be featured on the front page of the Scottish Poetry Library website on 7th of June… Have a read that day if you wish.

This year’s Scottish Poetry Library Anthology Best Scottish Poems 2011, edited by the marvellous Roddy Lumsden, is now out. I feel so privileged to have a poem from Condition of Fire alongside such amazing offerings from other poets.

Martin O'Donnell's Boat

Writing Out Loud

JL Williams and a group of wonderful writers reading at the Wee Red Bar on Friday 25th of May, hope to see you there!

Writing Out Loud


The List and The Skinny


Opul will be playing with Zorras and COWTSHTF on Friday, 4th of May at the Third Door – would be great to see you there!

VERSECORE on Facebook



4th May 2012 at The Third Door


Outlaws in the badlands ‘twixt poetry and music…


Doors 8.00pm, Music starts at 8.30pm, £5/£4 concessions


VERSECORE is a seminal night of music and poetry bands that will change the way you think about both genres.


Three bands team up to bring you music and poetry like you’ve never heard before – Zorras make poetry-music-video-weirdness fusion. With megaphones. Church of When the Shit Hits the Fan features poetry and beats from outer space, mind-bending hip hop for the next millennium and Opul is poetronica to break the heart and reconstruct the soul.

Come experience three bands that are combining poetry and music in new ways, and using projections, film and technology to expand the impact of their creative expression.  A rare platform focusing solely on bands that have collaboration and innovation at their core.



“A medley of poetry, music, video, megaphones  and drumming that would put Sheila E to shame.”

Jane Czyzselska, Diva Magazine


“Perfectly gathers super illmatic poetry on monstrous glitches and blasting beats. We send over a trillion thumbs up for all three tracks… a clever melt-down version of 21st century hip-hop battery Antipop Consortium and the sophisticated spoken-words by Saul Williams.”



“The apocalypse starts early with Opul, a collaboration between poet JL Williams and composer James Iremonger, who blasts out a laptop-sourced blend of industrial beats and impressionistic piano sketches to frame Williams’ words.”

Neil Cooper, The List




Writer Sandra Alland and musician Y Josephine formed Zorras in 2007, and have not stopped creating, publishing and performing since. Zorras have become known internationally for their unique bilingual mixture of text, sound poetry, percussion, singing, guitar, megaphones and projected images. Recent highlights include a Canadian tour, Berlin, Liverpool, Aberdeen and Las Palmas.

Zorras inject passion and humour into both personal experiences and cutting observations of our troubling times. They have a talent for surprising people (pleasantly), and for challenging preconceptions about performance poetry and intermedia art. From The Edinburgh International Book Festival and University of Toronto, to counterculture German film festivals and your favourite London squat, audiences have yet to throw a tomato. Phew.


“COWTSHTF are a power duo comprising of HQ and AA. HQ is an award-winning slam poet and commissioned playwright and AA is a massively in demand hip-hop/electro producer. Together they create dense slabs of cartoon apocalypse rap and have performed live on Radio 1 and T in the Park and created a Lovecraftian clown theatre show for the Edinburgh Fringe 2011, Hydronomicon”

BEATS: Asthmatic Astronaut
VOCALS: Harlequinade



Opul is music by James Iremonger and poetry by JL Williams.  Opul is poetronica.  Opul is all the stars in the universe opening their mouths and making a sound. Opul’s music is composed, produced and played by Iremonger and comes to the audience live via laptop and electric guitar.  Williams’ poetry is read live and amplified/effected by Iremonger during performance.  EP Provocateur out on Black Lantern Music.


What: VERSECORE music poetry gig

When: 4th May 2012

Where: The Third Door, 45-47 Lothian Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1HB

Box office: 0131 225 6313

Time: Doors 8.00pm, Music 8.30pm



JL Williams – Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library

I’m finishing up at the Traverse tomorrow, and will start as Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library on the 1st of May.  I hope to put on many events appealing to all those who love poetry, and even to those who don’t (yet)!  It would be lovely to see you there soon.  Please do get in touch from the 1st of May with thoughts about and ideas for events as I really want to support the community and find out what people want to hear/see/do.

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?
from The Swan by the remarkable Mary Oliver

JL Williams Up North


Enjoying the sun through the trees in Muir of Ord where we’ve come for the holiday weekend.

Statuesque trees knock
in wind gentle as lambs’ breath
on a door of sky.

JLW 2012

enLIGHTen Interview

Interview about my enLIGHTen experience up on their blog: enLIGHTen, in case you’d like a read.  There’s a rather fine picture of a bagel included.



Vile He is, Vile He is Not

The very not-vile Mr Gareth K Vile not only recently hosted Opul on his wonderful radio show on The Vile Arts Radio Hour on subcity, but also wrote this very nice post on his blog about my work and an upcoming event: The Vile Blog.

Ode to Daffodils

Gold stars with tit-shaped mouths, you gurgle spring.

The castle’s mount is a nursery whose infants wail honey.

My head is dredged with yellow sucking – I’m slugged

to the green grass where my body

luxuriates in damp soil, tiny white roots

like capillaries nursing the first drops of April’s rain.

JLW 2012



StAnza 2012 – Alastair Cook’s Filmpoems

I’m delighted and honoured to have been asked to read my poem with Luca Nasciuti‘s live electroacoustics as part of Alastair Cook‘s Filmpoem event on March 16th at this year’s StAnza Festival.

Hope to see you there if you can make it.  We recently did a trial run of this at Alastair’s wonderful opening at Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Edinburgh, and it went down a treat.


Poetry @ the Ivory Reading for International Women’s Day

I’ve been asked to be one of the readers at Poetry at the Ivory’s special International Women’s Day event on the 14th of March, all details here:

Poetry @ The Ivory

7.15pm for 7.30pm at the Ivory Hotel, Shawlands, Glasgow.

I think the bill is going to be fabulous, and it should be a really gorgeous event (thanks for asking me Kate!).  Hope to see you there.


From Glasgow to Saturn Reading Party 1st March

I’ve been asked to be one of the readers at the upcoming From Glasgow to Saturn reading party at the Anatomy Museum at the University of Glasgow on the 1st of March from 6pm-8pm.  I believe it’s free and open to anyone who wants to come along.  I believe Alan Bissett is reading, not sure who else.  Hope to see you there!





I was recently commissioned to be one of the writers for the City of Literature and (G)Host City enLIGHTen project, celebrating Edinburgh’s literary history in a dazzling display of light.

You can read more about it in this article in the Scotsman:

JL Williams in From Glasgow to Saturn

Fabulous to be in From Glasgow to Saturn: FGTSissue-231



JL Williams on BBC Radio Scotland’s The Culture Café

JL Williams on BBC Radio Scotland’s The Culture Café

Perfume and Poetry



JL Williams in Northwords Now

JL Williams published in Northwords Now #18.


JL Williams in …..perplex…..

Art and Poetry at Annuale’s ……perplex…….



JL Williams @ Write Now

Listen to poems at Write Now at the CCA.


JL Williams’ PANK Review

JL Williams’ review of Brendan Connell’s book The Life of Polycrates at [PANK].



The Nervous Breakdown

JL Williams was featured in The Nervous Breakdown.


Filmpoem by Alastair Cook – Condition of Fire

Filmpoem by Alastair Cook Condition of Fire.




Filmpoem 11/Condition of Fire from Alastair Cook on Vimeo.

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