Poetry Makes All Sorts of People Cry

I was chopping onions last night and the tears were flowing.  Poetry has similar powers, and not just for men-folk!  New post on the SPL blog about the recently published anthology: Poems that Make Grown Men Cry.  

SPL Podcast and Transatlantic Poetry

We’ve been busy at the Scottish Poetry Library.  You might like to check out recent podcast interviews with poets Brian Turner, Tanya Shirley and… JL Williams! And our Transatlantic Poetry Broadcast featuring American poet David Mason and Scottish Poetry Gerry Cambridge is available to watch HERE and here…    

Reading at The Bakehouse

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.…… Continue reading Reading at The Bakehouse

Interview at the SPL

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. 

Bacchanales Vol 49

It hasn’t quite arrived yet but I’m looking forward to receiving my contributor’s copy of Bacchanales Vol 49. It is a science-themed issue and my poems have been translated into French by a very kind translator Isabelle Metral who I’ve only met via email. It’s all thanks to the lovely Jean-Baptiste Cabaud, who I had…… Continue reading Bacchanales Vol 49


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…… Continue reading ALQUIMIA DEL FUEGO

Lettretage Long List

Received an email from Greta at Lettretage in Berlin the other day to say both proposals (one a partnership with the extraordinary MACGILLIVRAY (pictured below) — a Cowboy Opera!) sent in for the fabulous SOUNDOUT! Festival in May have been added to their long list, yay!  

Locust and Marlin has arrived!

Just arrived into work at the Scottish Poetry Library to find a box of these waiting for me… !!!oIt’s made my heart go all fluttery.A huge thank you to Tony Frazer at Shearsman for such quality editing and production, and to Anupa Gardner for the amazing cover image.  

John Glenday and Dorianne Laux SPL/Transatlantic Poetry on Air Reading

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…… Continue reading John Glenday and Dorianne Laux SPL/Transatlantic Poetry on Air Reading

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… Continue reading Season’s Greetings!

Poetry Art

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…… Continue reading Poetry Art

Wee Small Hours: Louise Bourgeois

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…… Continue reading Wee Small Hours: Louise Bourgeois

My Life in Poetry & Perfume

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.

Poetry Notes

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 Don’t think about who you’re writing for, but consider why…… Continue reading Poetry Notes

Gerry Loose EIBF Walking With Poets Interview

Gerry Loose EIBF Walking With Poets Interview 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… Continue reading Gerry Loose EIBF Walking With Poets Interview

Kay Ryan SPL Podcast

Kay Ryan SPL Podcast 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… Continue reading Kay Ryan SPL Podcast

Poesiefestival Berlin 2013

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…… Continue reading Poesiefestival Berlin 2013

Terry Deary and Moray Council Make Me Sad

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,…… Continue reading Terry Deary and Moray Council Make Me Sad

The Burning Sand at Jim Lambie’s Poetry Club

What an amazing time we had last night at the first ‘The Burning Sand’ night at Jim Lambie’s delicious new Poetry Club in Glasgow.  The beautiful Sarah Lowndes invited me to read there and it was a real honour to kick off the night with some poems about sand, love, burning sand, burning love and……… Continue reading The Burning Sand at Jim Lambie’s Poetry Club

Continuum at Generator

I was lucky enough recently to be one of the performers at artist Catherine Street’s Continuum show, along with Catherine herself, Martin Parker and Owen Green.  It was hosted at the super cool Generator Projects in Dundee.  It was very cold, but very thrilling. I’m very pleased that Catherine will be showing some of her amazing films…… Continue reading Continuum at Generator


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.

Anatomy #3 and QABALALA!

Opul is super super excited to have two gigs coming along in December, hope to see you at: Anatomy #3 at Summerhall on 14 December and Qabalala! at the Leith Cricket Club on 21 December. James just got a Kaoss pad, so it should be particularly banging.

Kate Tough’s “Next Big Thing”

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!

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…… Continue reading David Pollock on the Village Pub Theatre

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!

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!  

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  

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…… Continue reading Best Scottish Poems 2011

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

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