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Poetry serves as both a mirror and a window – as a mirror it allows us to reflect upon our lives and our society, and as a window, it allows us to imagine new lives, to see new possibilities. Poetry offers us a language when our other languages fail. It offers freedom to explore ideas, desires, dreams, fears in ways that are limitless.

Here you will find information on Athol's poetry publishing history, his books and awards, as well as examples of poems, interviews and other media.

POEM: Audio

A NEW SOUTH AFRICAN STORY - written for the occasion of the inauguration of the President of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, 25 May 2019. Played on air on Kaya fm during the ceremony.

POEMS: Video

A peaceful poem that urges us to stop for a while and take notice of beauty around us. Published in Heap of Stones and Invitation.

'39 Postcards' read at the online Abuja Festival in Nigeria. A poem about dreams and possibility.

A line from 'Makers' displayed outside Workshop 17 on West Street in Sandton, Johannesburg. Published in Invitation.

We must stand defiant against injustice. Remembering an encounter with Apartheid police violence. Published in Heap of Stones.

'Only the listening' is a thoughtful and uplifting poem. Published in Invitation.

Reaction to the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Only love can heal us from divisions that drive us to violence. Published in Bumper Cars.




The poems spring from Athol's stand as a whistleblower and witness before the State Capture Commission in 2021. However, the poems also blow the whistle on the injustices we tolerate and foster in South Africa. Includes the award-winning poem 'Visit at Tea Time'. Review of Whistleblowing.



INVITATION, Theart Press, 2017

Winner of the South Africa Independent Publishers Award for 2017

An exploration of beauty, memory and spirituality. An invitation to dream, to walk in faith and to love.

Athol Williams

TALKING TO A TREE, Theart Press, 2011

These poems of a fragile world ask 'Is this really how we want to live?'

Fragile cover.jpg

FRAGILE, Theart Press, 2020


A reflection on our world through poetry and art. A collaboration with 65 South African artists. The book includes 65 paintings and associated reflective poems.

athol williams

BUMPER CARS, The Onslaught Press, 2016

Runner-up for the 2016 South African Literary Award for Poetry. Includes Streetclass Diseases,  Winner of the 2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award.

A close look at conflict and possibilities for social harmony.

Athol Williams

HEAP OF STONES, Theart Press, 2009

Debut collection, written under the pseudonym AE Ballakisten. Includes the inspirational poem, One Finite Life.

POEMS: Video

Originally dedicated to my wife, Taryn in 2010. A celebration of feminine beauty, strength and love.

A prayer for contentment. First published in Heap of Stones

Winner of the 2016 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award. Delivering justice is a complex matter in an unjust society.

'Counting' reflects on passing time and passing lives. Read in McGregor. Published in Invitation and the McGregor Poetry Festival Anthology

A poem born out of peak listening over a number of years. First published in New Orleans Review, USA in 2017.

Winner of the 2015 Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award. Published in Bumper Cars



  • Nombono (anthology), Sundress Publications, UK

  • BKO Magazine, Nr 1, Vol 5, June 2021, SA

  • Love in the Time of Covid (anthology), African Sun Press, 2021, SA



  • Not A Single Story, Wanas Konst, Sweden

  • adda, Commonwealth Writers, UK

  • Naturally Africa! (anthology), African Sun Press, South Africa



  • Ash, MT 2017, Oxford University, UK

  • Canopic Jar, Featured Voice, Oct 2017, USA

  • TSSF Journal, Issue 1, South Africa

  • The Perch, Yale University, USA

  • Those That This, June 2017, France

  • The Opiate Magazine, May 2017, USA

  • Poetry Quarterly, Issue 29, Spring 2017, USA

  • New Orleans Review, Issue 43 (2017), USA

  • New Contrast, Issue 178, South Africa

  • McGregor Poetry Festival Anthology, South Africa

  • Stanzas, Nr 7, March 2017, South Africa

  • The Elephant Magazine, Issue 3, USA

  • Canopic Jar, USA


  • PEN South Africa, South Africa

  • Best New African Poets Anthology

  • Stark - The Poetry Journal, Issue No 1, Sweden

  • The Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology, Vol VI

  • Trainstorm, (Poets Printery), SA

  • to kingdom come (The Onslaught Press) UK

  • New Coin, June 2016, South Africa

  • New Contrast, Issue 173, South Africa

  • Voyages: An Anthology (Age UK), Oxford

  • Cherwell, Oxford, UK 



  • The Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology, Vol V

  • here, without (BBP Gallerie), USA,

  • Popshot Magazine, Issue 13* UK

  • for the children of Gaza (Onslaught)* 2014, UK

  • Clare Market Review, Volume CX* 2014, UK

  • Pambazuka News, 29 May 2014* 

  • The Body Modern, Inky Needles * 2014, UK

  • Clare Market Review, Volume CIX* 2013, UK

  • Visual Verse, UK*

  • Our World, Better Together, Harvard, 2013, USA

  • New Contrast, Issue 158* 2012, South Africa



  • The Thistle, Volume 9, No 2, MIT USA

  • The Thistle, Volume 8, No 14, MIT USA

  • Wits Student, Jhb, SA


* as AE Ballakisten


Expresso (SABC), 10 November 2016

Morning Live (SABC), 24 October 2015

POEMS: Video

A sad reflection on society's rejection of difference. Published in Bumper Cars. Recorded at Oxford University

We all seek acceptance - some pay a higher price than others, often because of their deprivations. Published in Heap of Stones. 

Our actions and intent changes the world - for better or worse. Recorded outside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

We are told that 'guns don't kill, people kill.' This poem reflects on the purpose of firearms. Published in Talking to a Tree. 

My personal manifesto. I choose to live consciously and with purpose. An uplifting poem. Published in Invitation. 

Reading my poem 'Erased' at the Bangalore Literary Festival in India. Published in the anthology, We Mark Your Memory

Protesting the corruption in South Africa under President Jacob Zuma. Recorded in London in 2014.

**Trigger warning: contains scenes of violence**

Divisions often lead to violence - we have to find ways of drawing closer to each other. Published in Talking to a Tree.

I read one of Nortje's poems as well as the poem I dedicated to him.


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