JL Williams was born in New Jersey and studied at Wellesley College and on the MLitt in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. Her poetry has been published in journals including The Compass, Magma, Edinburgh Review, Poetry Wales, The Wolf, Shearsman, Fulcrum and Stand.
JL Williams is particularly interested in expanding dialogues through poetry across languages, perspectives and cultures and in cross-form work, music, visual art, dance, opera and theatre. 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. She was selected for the 2015 Jerwood Opera Writing Programme and for the TRG3 Residency Programme at Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh.
In September 2009 she journeyed to the Aeolian Isles to write a collection inspired by Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It is called Condition of Fire and was published by Shearsman Books in 2011. Her second collection, Locust and Marlin, was published by Shearsman in 2014 and was nominated for the 2014 Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year Award. Our Real Red Selves (Vagabond Poets, 2015), a triptych collection featuring Williams, Harry Giles and Marion McCready, explores themes of war and birth. House of the Tragic Poet, a sequence of poems inspired by the loss of a poem, was published by Sam Riviere’s If A Leaf Falls Press in 2016.Here latest two collections, After Economy (2017) and Origin (2022), were also pblished by Shearsman Books.
Her poems also appeared in various anthologies: Best Scottish Poems 2011 as well as its editions from 2014 to 2015, Be The First To Like This, Vagabond Voices, 2014 , Alquimia Del Fuego, Amargord Ediciones, Spanish Anthology of Fire Poems, 2014, Quaich: An Anthology of Translation in Scotland Today, 2014 and New Writing Scotland 30, 2012.
Performer in the poetry and music band Opul with composer and musician James Iremonger, JL Williams gives regular poetry readings and workshops and is on the Live Literature funded list of Scottish Book Trust Authors. She has read and performed in the UK, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Turkey, Cyprus, Canada and the US.