Alexandra Watson

Lecturer, First-Year Writing


English, First Year Foundation


268 Barnard Hall


Alexandra Watson is a published fiction writer, essayist and poet whose work is concerned with race, class, addiction, and mental health. She is the executive editor and co-founder of Apogee Journal, a publication providing a platform for underrepresented artists and writers. Her fiction, poetry, and interviews have appeared in The Common, The Bennington Review, The Rumpus, Yes Poetry, Nat. Brut., Redivider, PANK, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. She’s the recipient of the PEN/Nora Magid Prize for Literary Magazine editing, and has received grants from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council for community arts programming. 

  • M.F.A., Columbia University
  • B.A., Brown University

  • Inclusive Pedagogy 
  • Contemporary American Literature
  • African-American Literature and Literature of the African Diaspora
  • Latin American Literature
  • Fiction Writing

  • Barnard Provost’s Fund for Innovative Teaching (2020)
  • Columbia Provost’s Innovative Course Design (2020)
  • 2019 PEN/Nora Magid Prize for Literary Magazine editing
  • Archie D. & Bertha H. Walker Scholarship, Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, 2014
  • Mariposa Fellowship, Columbia School of the Arts, 2012-2013
  • Recipient of Open Meadows Foundation grant for women-led activist projects
  • Recipient of New York State Council on the Arts grants
  • Recipient of Lower Manhattan Cultural Council grants

  • Executive Editor, Apogee Journal Assistant
  • Director of Writing Instruction, Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America

  • ​​​​​​
  • Story, “Greener,” The Rumpus, 2021
  • Poems, “My Body as the George Washington Bridge,” “when the party’s over” The Common, 2021
  • Poem, “Sugar Daddies,” The Swamp Literary Magazine, 2020 (forthcoming)
  • Poem, “Night Shades or, People Unraced,” The Bennington Review, 2020 (forthcoming)
  • Poems, “Ode to a deep hip stretch,” “they got the boys who got your girls,” Pittsburgh Poetry Journal, 2020
  • Poem, “Yelp Reviews for a Lost Corner,” Scoundrel Time, 2020
  • Poem, “Faded,” Yes Poetry, 2020
  • Poem, “After Hours Elsewhere,” Breadcrumbs Magazine, 2020
  • Poems, “First Woman Creates Second Woman,” Breadcrumbs Magazine (2019)
  • Short Story, “Not The Type,” Nat. Brut. (2017)
  • Poetry, “Alien Relative,” PANK. (2017)
  • Poetry, “Dream Machine,” Re/Divider (2017)
  • Interview with Zinzi Clemmons, Apogee Issue 09 (2017)
  • Fiction, "Criminal" in the James Franco Review, Issue 07 (2016)
  • Essay, “The Political as Personal: On Reading Widely” in “Art You Engaged,” The James Franco Review (2015) Interview with Paul Beatty, Apogee Issue 06 (2015)
  • Essay, “Millions March v. Santacon: The Role of Millennials in Activism” on Huffington Post (2015)

Apogee Issue 9

Apogee Issue 8

Apogee Issue 6

Maya Angelou wrote, “Words are things… Someday we’ll be able to measure the power of words.” I like to think of First Year Writing as our collaborative attempt to “measure the power of words”--by dissecting other writers’ work and crafting our own arguments. As an editor and fiction and poetry writer, I’m especially interested in discussing issues of voice, perspective, narrative, silence. The roles of sound and form in creating meaning. The role of the writer’s audience--imagined, ideal, and real.

Questions of voice, perspective, and audience resonate through the texts in the Americas curriculum. Who gets to speak, who gets to record, who gets to document (literary) history? Who’s listening? What does it look/sound like when marginal voices participate in the literary conversation? What happens when oral and literary traditions collide / intersect / grapple? How does the subject describe its other--colonized or colonizer? Our texts--from Sor Juana’s Loa to the Divine Narcissus to Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno to Toni Morrison’s Jazz--show the complexity of these questions. 

Through writing, we attempt to answer these complex questions. The deepest insights come when we maintain our sense of curiosity, our belief that the act of writing  leads to discovery, helps answer our burning questions. Writing helps us not only to transcribe existing ideas but also to generate new ideas, to allow encounters with new evidence to challenge our assumptions.

I joined Barnard’s faculty as a Lecturer in First Year Writing in 2017, and I share my students’ enthusiasm about participating in such a dynamic, engaging intellectual environment. I previously taught University Writing at Columbia, and college writing at the Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America. I have an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia. While in grad school I helped found a literary magazine, Apogee Journal, which I still edit today. 

In The News

Watson shares a poem about racial identity.

November 16, 2020

Read about the new accomplishments of Barnard scholars.

September 21, 2020

Alexandra Watson, Lecturer in First-Year Writing, won the 2019 PEN/Nora Magid Award for Editing of Apogee Journal.

February 6, 2019