Read Raw Ltd

Promoting Creative Writing in Scotland

JL Williams

Featured Poet

Picture courtesy of Camila Cavalcante

JL Williams has been published in journals including Poetry Wales, The Wolf, Edinburgh Review, Magma, Fulcrum and Stand. Her poetry has been translated into Greek, French, Polish, Spanish and Dutch and she has translated poetry from Spanish and Greek. She has read at international book festivals including StAnza and Aye Write! and will be reading at the 2015 International Eskişehir Poetry Festival in Turkey.


Her poems have been featured in the New Writing Scotland 30 Anthology and in the SPL’s Best Scottish Poems 2011, 2013 and 2014 Anthologies. She is particularly interested in cross-form work and has collaborated with artists, musicians and filmmakers. She 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 Williams journeyed to the Aeolian Isles to write a collection inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses called Condition of Fire, published by Shearsman Books in 2011. Her second collection, Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014), explores the idea of home and where we come from. Locust and Marlin was shortlisted for the Saltire Society 2014 Poetry Book of the Year Award.


JL Williams plays in the band Opul and is Programme Manager at the Scottish Poetry Library.


una selva oscura



dear my light!


glow so

i can find you

in the forest i’ve

come to – darling –




survive me!


so i can

catch you

in the pool

of my eternal




Little Mice



in the oven little mice



telling the story of your birth

to every bread that bakes

and the plumbers fill

their mouths

with that ASH BREAD

this doesn’t make you a mouse

because you have suffered

as all angels suffer

the smell of the oven

will be wiped from your memory

and you will forgive

the people who built the oven

and you will paint a portrait

of your parents in their youth

with legs and arms and eyes

that have never seen flames


Bread Song



!when you said! hell!

!did you mean! truth!

!or perhaps! heart! you said!

!red! red! red!

!in bed i! suffered!

!the mind ate! itself!

!the cat searched! the wall!

!each hole was! a bug!

!the pipes had! mice!

!the bread fell! to bits!

!when you said! hell!

!did you mean! heart!

!or maybe! truth!

!the sky turned! green!

!the hail fell! loud! you said!

!red! red! red!

!my head ate! the bread!

!the oven ate! the dough!

!the dough ate! the flour!

!the flour ate! the milk!

!the milk ate! the egg!

!the egg ate! the sugar!

!the sugar ate! the salt!

!the salt stung! the wound!

!red! red! red!

!I’m dead! you said!

!did you mean! hell!

!or possibly! truth!




All poems on this page are the copyright © of JL Williams