Dawn Watson

Research activity per year

If you made any changes in Pure these will be visible here soon.

Personal profile

Research Interests

I'm the author of poetry collection We Play Here, forthcoming with Granta Books on August 3, 2023. My poetry pamphlet The Stack of Owls is Getting Higher is published with The Emma Press (2019). My interests span poetry, prose, and their areas of intersection. I am drawn to writing that is surprising, and further interests include landscapes of childhood, strangeness, grief, and the supernatural.

I completed a poetry PhD at the Seamus Heaney Centre in October 2022 supervised by Dr Gail McConnell and Dr Leontia Flynn. The critical component is titled 'Strangely Alive': Elizabeth Bishop and the 'Art of Story Writing'. The thesis examines Elizabeth Bishop’s technique of overlapping the lyric with narrative in her autobiographical prose writing of childhood. The creative component is titled 'We Play Here'. The book was developed as part of a wider thesis exploring the imbrication of verse and narrative in Bishop's work to produce, as she called it, “something further”.

We Play Here is a collection of four poem sequences set in Protestant working class North Belfast in the summer of 1988 against a background of political turbulence. Four female friends navigate an eerie, elemental landscape of normalised violence, poverty and neglect in what is ultimately a story of hope and resilience.

My writing has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4: short story ‘Sonny’s Bench’ was performed by Derry Girls actor Ian McElhinney, and 'The Riots' by Aoibhéann McCann. I publish both poetry and prose in literary journals which have included Granta, The Manchester Review, Blackbox ManifoldThe Moth, and The Stinging Fly. I was filmed performing my poem 'Chicken Wings' for The Arts Show X on BBC iPlayer. I also was filmed performing my poems 'Peach Season' and 'This is Just to Say (the Gays Will Steal Your Fruit)' in two short films for the Adrian Brinkerhoff Foundation, New York. I recently represented Northern Ireland at the Transpoesie Literary Festival in Brussels.


I am a lecturer in creative writing within the English subject area at undergraduate level through to MA-level teaching. At stage one, I teach on ENG1090: Introduction to Creative Writing. At stage two, I am the convenor of ENG2093: Creative Writing Prose. I am currently supervising both MA and stage three creative writing dissertations.


Reviews of We Play Here:

"I reached the end of We Play Here, and was so sorry it had ended I immediately read it again (twice more). From its capturing of the child-like vocabulary and intonation, to its subtly allusive and complicated child-via-adult birds-eye view, it makes an utterly compelling narrative. Its world is immediately recognisable in more than its Belfast context, and where the Troubles shadow the narrative, so too – more evidently – does the poverty-fuelled violence that characterised the decade." Professor Fran Brearton, Queen's University, Belfast.


I am a former tabloid sub editor with national newspapers including The Sunday Times, The News of the World, and The Daily Mirror.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


Dive into the research topics where Dawn Watson is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles