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Joe Williams

Updated: Sun, 20 Jun 2021 02:23 pm


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Joe Williams is an award-winning writer and performing poet from Leeds. He tells tales about lost love, people in pubs, and the best ways to insult footballers in Spanish. Joe’s latest book 'The Taking Part' (published by Maytree Press in 2021) is a short collection of poems on the theme of sport and games. His previous book publications are the critically acclaimed pamphlet 'This is Virus', composed of erasure poems made from Boris Johnson’s lockdown letter to the UK; the verse novella 'An Otley Run', which was shortlisted for a Saboteur Award; and his debut poetry pamphlet 'Killing the Piano'. His work has appeared in many anthologies, in literary magazines including Prole, Strix, Poetry Scotland, The Blue Nib and Pennine Platform, and has been broadcast on BBC radio. He edited the anthology 'The View From Olympia: Poems inspired by Olympic sport' for Half Moon Books, and is a member of the editorial board at Dream Catcher magazine. Joe is a popular performer who has headlined events around Yorkshire and beyond, and appeared at several major literature festivals. He is an experienced compere of literary and music events, and the founder and host of Words on the Wall in Hexham. In 2017 he won the Open Mic Competition at Ilkley Literature Festival, and was runner-up the following year. Despite all of that, he is probably most widely read thanks to his contributions to Viz.


Penalty Shootout in Zero Gravity (from 'The Taking Part') It was Barry’s idea, so he only has himself to blame. For all the thrill of orbital flight, of seeing the Earth from space, those journeys are so damn boring. I admit to sneaking the ball in, and that Barry was winding me up. The running commentary didn’t help, calling me Gareth Southgate, him being Andreas Köpke. No one could have predicted the ball would hit the airlock button, just when Barry was leaping up, trying to stop my rocket blast, straight to the top left corner. Perhaps he’ll be a hero yet, get a glove to an asteroid hurtling towards the Earth. The slightest of deflections, nudging it over the bar. - Killing the Piano (Chosen as WoL's poem of the week, 30/04/18: We tried to save you with small ads. "Free to good home, must collect" but nobody called. We tried schools and churches, community centres, but none were prepared to accommodate you. No room for the past, no use for tradition, and each back turned was another key condemned. Once we dragged you a hundred miles north, and later a hundred back, my faithful friend as I learnt how to play, from 'Three Blind Mice' to 'Für Elise' and the 'Nut Rocker'. But for years you stood, lid down, barely touched, except by the clumsy fists of children, bashing a blind fortissimo, untroubled by rhythm or melody, unaware that every good boy deserves favour. For years you stood, an obstacle, an inconvenience, silently slipping out of tune. It fell to me to strike the killing blow, consign you to the fate we’d tried to swerve. Behind the crack of splintering walnut I could hear a heart breaking. - Cathedrals (from 'The Taking Part') There’s something in the angles, those webs of knitted steel. How many million voices have been captured in that silk? How many cries of victory, frustration and despair have risen from these terraces, the edges of these flip-down seats, to echo in the rafters long after we are dead? Have you ever been alone in a cathedral? Just you, and all history’s ghosts.


Thursday 15 July: Online - Zoom Guest poet at Shaken in Sheep Town Sunday 25 July, 2pm: Left Bank, Leeds Maytree Press poets at Leeds Poetry Festival Saturday 28 August, 2pm: Westgate Studios, Wakefield Guest poet at Jackanory Monday 13 September, 7pm: HEART, Leeds Guest poet at Soundbites Saturday 16 October, 2.30pm: The County Hotel, Hexham Compering Words on the Wall, with Matthew Hedley Stoppard, Rob Walton, one more tbc Wednesday 10 November, 7pm: Online - Zoom Guest at Two Yorkshire Poets, for Wirral Poetry Festival. With Mick Jenkinson Thursday 2 December: The Fleece, Otley Guest at Otley Poets

All poems are copyright of the originating author. Permission must be obtained before using or performing others' poems.

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Hover over an event to see the details. (Open Mic open mic event, WOL Write Out Loud event)

Sunday 02 December 2018

Leeds »

2:00pm at 2 Otley Road, Leeds, LS6 2DG, GB

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Don Matthews

Mon 23rd Sep 2019 13:35

That suggests you be drunk ad infinitum. Methinks you gotta problem...😎

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Don Matthews

Sat 21st Sep 2019 23:54

Now Joe I've some questions 'bout your picture
Are you scaring, or sun-blinded, drunk?
Are you looking intensely intellectual?
Or acting as just a big hunk? 😜

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Don Matthews

Sat 21st Sep 2019 23:46

Hi Joe

You have sparked off a memory of when I first came across you. Different poetry clicks with different people. Yours clicks with me. It must have been something humourous for me to remember......

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Sat 2nd Sep 2017 11:50

Looking forward to meeting you in Sale in November. And, no, I don't think 'drunk'; doesn't quite fit the furrowed brow theme.

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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Thu 31st Aug 2017 15:47

I don't know how I've missed you thus far. I'll really try to catch up. That's an impressive BIO.

Are you trying to look scary in the photo, or just sun-blinded? Or intense and intellectual? Or maybe deeply 'composing'? It's definitely a 'catchy' picture.

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Joe Williams

Wed 22nd Feb 2017 15:16

Thanks Frances, I'm glad you liked it!

Frances Macaulay Forde

Wed 22nd Feb 2017 10:51

"I'm in love with..." made me smile, Joe.
I really liked the down-to-earth-ed-ness and focus on what really matters when attraction strikes...
Particularly how you told us using the 'circle of storytelling'.
Great structure.
I've now added you to my favourites.

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