Emmett Williams was born April 4th, 1925, in Greenville, South Carolina, grew up in Virginia, and lived in Europe from 1949 to 1966.

Duet (1:50) Recorded Giorno Poetry Systems, New York, December, 1968 from The Dial-A-Poem Poets, Giorno Poetry Systems (1972) source

He studied poetry with John Crowe Ransom at Kenyon College, took courses in anthropology at the University of Paris, and was an assistant to the ethnologist Paul Radin in Lugano, Switzerland.

He collaborated with Daniel Spoerri and Claus Bremer in the Darmstadt circle of concrete poetry, dynamic theater, etc., from 1957 to 1959. In the early sixties he was European coordinator of Fluxus, and a founding member of the Domaine Poetique in Paris.

His close friendship and collaboration with Robert Filliou resulted in many co-productions and co-inventions. His publications include konkretionen, Krefeld 1958; ja, es war noch da, an opera, first printed in nota, Munich 1960; poesie et cetera americaine, an anthology of action poetry, Paris 1963; 13 variations on 6 words of gertrude stein, Galerie der Spiegel, Cologne 1965; rotapoems, variations on a poem from Diter Rot’s lyrical collection Scheisse, Edition Hansjorg Mayer, Stuttgart 1966, and sweethearts, a long erotic concrete poem cycle, Stuttgart 1967.

His theater essays have appeared in Das Neue Forum, Berner Blatter, Ulmer Theater and other European magazines. Williams translated and reanecdoted Daniel Spoerri’s Topographie Anecdotee du Hasard (An Anecdoted Topography of Chance), collaborated with Claes Oldenburg on Store Days, and edited An Anthology of Concrete Poetry, all published by the Something Else Press, New York. His latest work, a boy and a bird, is a long “building” poem, constructed of shifting linguistic relationships.
(Written in 1966)

  • 1925 Born April 4th in Greenville, South Carolina, U.S.A.. Grew up in Newport News, Virginia
  • 1943 Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio
  • 1943-46 U.S. Army
  • 1946 Trips to Poland and Greece on cattleboats
  • 1947-49 Kenyon College, B.A.
  • 1949-66 Lived and worked in France, Germany and Switzerland: Member of the “Darmstadt Circle” of concrete poetry, Dynamic theater, etc., with Claus Bremer and Daniel Spoerri; Domaine Poétique in Paris with Robert Filliou, Bernard Heidsieck, François Dufrêne, Ghérasim Luca and Brion Gysin; and the international Fluxus group since 1962
  • 1966-70 Editor-in-chief, The Something Else Press, New York
  • 1969 Artist-in-residence, University of Kentucky, Lexington
  • 1970-72 Professor of Art, School of Critical Studies, California Institute of the Arts
  • 1972-74 Guest Professor, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, Halifax
  • 1975-77 Artist-in-residence, Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts
  • 1977 Wanderings in Japan with Ay-O
  • 1977-78 Artist-in-residence, Research Fellow, Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University
  • 1978-80 Artist-in-residence, Leverett House, Harvard University
  • 1980 Award-grant for work in Conceptual Art, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, D.C.
  • 1980 Artist-in-residence, Berliner Künstlerprogramm (DAAD)
  • 1981-85 Guest professor, Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Hamburg, and Hochschule der Künste, Berlin
  • 1987 Co-founder, International Symposium of the Arts, Warsaw Artist-in-residence, Machida-shi Museum of Graphic Arts, Tokyo
  • 1988-89 Barkenhoff-Stiftung, Arbeitsstipendium, Worpswede
  • 1990 Guest artist, Malindi Artists’ Proof, Malindi, Kenya
  • 1990— Director-President, Artists’ Museum, Lodz, Poland
  • 1991 Guest artist, Malindi Artists’ Proof, Malindi, Kenya
  • 1996 Hannah Höch Prize for “a lifetime of achievement in the arts”, Berlinische Galerie, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin
  • 1997 Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts (honoris causa), Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, Halifax
  • Lives in Berlin