JL Williams

JL Williams: expanding dialogue through poetry across languages, perspectives and cultures and in multimodal and cross-form work including explorations in visual art, music, dance, opera and theatre. Her books include Condition of Fire, Locust and Marlin and After Economy (all published by Shearsman Books).


Photo: Gabriela Cuzepan


Between Worlds: Writing with Masks »

A half-day workshop at MUSA with JL Williams

Wed 7 March | 14:00 - 16:30 | £7.50 | MUSA (Museum of the University of St Andrews), The Scores


Ritual of Transmutation to Fish and Back Again

1000 women baring the teeth of their masks

ask the molten stairway why it refuses to raise me up

eat this gold to make the inside of my stomach gold

old women now suck in suck in the gold

these sparks are golden sea teeth flung to the sky

you know now how the smithy hammers the lead

dead the fishermen dead the sea’s mermen

lend me another planet of trembling seas

they cry, ‘she swam into rock to break her own face’

I have a mask for that made of molten gold

told you this was the beach on which I collapsed

couldn’t stop breathing because the water ran red

told you it is my face I pronounce in red

dead the men to me women sip my blood

ruddy women fish stroke me with gold fins

coral sighs clouds of chalk in brackish red

I cry, ‘I swam into rock to break my own face’

race toward 1000 women beating their breasts

stress this: the molten stairway will raise me up

cup of gold to the womb of all our frailty

drink and be draught
fish and be fished
by the sound of the splash
no cry will be missed


JL Williams