Poet and prose writer Dawn Watson was born and raised in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her poetry won second place in the Funeral Services Northern Ireland National Poetry Competition in 2016. She attended Queen’s University Belfast for her BA in English with creative writing, where she won the Dr George Alexander Baird Scholarship and the Dr Henry Hutchinson Stewart Literary Scholarship, graduating with a first in 2017. She also won the won the Ruth West MA Poetry Award, allowing her to continue in Queen’s University Belfast’s MA program. In 2018, Watson earned her MA in “Poetry: Creativity and Criticism” with distinction.
Watson was shortlisted for the Dermot Healy Poetry Award in 2017. In 2018, she was chosen as one of the 2018 Poetry Ireland Introductions Series poets and supported Hera Lindsay Bird in the 2018 International Literary Festival Dublin. She also won the Doolin Writers’ Poetry Award and was shortlisted for the Mairtín Crawford Award. Her debut pamphlet, The Stack of Owls Is Getting Higher, was published by the Emma Press in 2019. Drawing from Watson’s travels in Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas, the poems in the collection navigate both the American Deep South and Watson’s native Belfast, joining imagery of nature’s fecundity with uniquely human struggles.
Watson’s writing has been published in many journals, including The Manchester Review, Blackbox Manifold, The Stinging Fly, The Moth, The Vacuum, The Cormorant, The Honest Ulsterman, and The Tangerine. Her poem “This Is Just to Say (the Gays Will Steal Your Fruit)” was commissioned by the Dublin Fringe Festival for the event The North is Next in 2019, and her long poem “Hello, I Am Alive” was published in—and provided the name for—Poetry Ireland’s e-book Hello, I Am Alive. Watson’s short stories have been published in the anthologies Still Worlds Turning (No Alibis Press, 2019) and Belfast Stories (Doire Press, 2019). Her story “Sonny’s Bench” was performed by the actor Ian McElhinney for BBC Radio 4. She has also been shortlisted for the Brian Moore Short Story Award.
Previously a sub-editor with newspapers including London’s Sunday Times, Dublin’s News of the World, and Belfast’s Daily Mirror, Watson is currently working toward her PhD in prose poetics at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University Belfast. She is also at work on a first novel, with support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. She lives in Belfast with her wife and her son, Art.
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Photo by Matthew Thompson.