Alexandra Watson

Alexandra Watson

Lecturer in First-Year Writing, Associate Director of the Writing Program


English, First Year Foundation


268 Barnard Hall


Alexandra Watson is co-founder and executive editor of Apogee Journal, a nonprofit literary arts organization publishing a journal that encourages the thoughtful exploration of identity and its intersections, prioritizing artists and writers of color. Since its founding in 2012, Apogee has featured contributors including David Mura, Danez Smith, Morgan Parker, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Deesha Philyaw, K Ming Chang, Dantiel W. Moniz, Mickalene Thomas, Naomi Jackson, Roger Reeves, and many more. Apogee has hosted free or low cost community arts workshops supported by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and the Brooklyn Arts Council, and is supported by the New York State Council on the Arts. Apogee is the recipient of a 2022 Whiting Digital Magazine Prize, and Alexandra received the 2019 PEN/Nora Magid Award for Literary Magazine editing.

Alexandra is a writer whose poetry and fiction appear in The Nation, The South Carolina Review, The Rumpus, The Common, [PANK], Redivider, Nat. Brut., Yes Poetry, The Bennington Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, and others. Her short story “Even Days” won the Ronald Moran fiction prize from the South Carolina Review. Her work is concerned with exploring nuances of race, class, mental illness, addiction, and family dynamics.

She holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from Columbia University’s School of the Arts, and a BA in English and Literary Arts from Brown University.

  • 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

  • Poem, Brother Leaves Voicemails from CPEP, The Nation, 2022 (forthcoming)
  • Poem, Self Portrait as an A Train Car, Painted Bride Quarterly, 2022 (forthcoming)
  • Story, "Even Days, South Carolina Review, 2022 (winner of Ronald Moran fiction prize)
  • 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 
  • Poem, “Night Shades or, People Unraced,” The Bennington Review, 2020
  • 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
  • Poem, “First Woman Creates Second Woman,” Breadcrumbs Magazine (2019)
  • Story, “Not The Type,” Nat. Brut. (2017)
  • Poem, “Alien Relative,” PANK. (2017)
  • Poem, “Dream Machine,” Redivider (2017)

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

Erica Mann Jong ’63, Anna Quindlen ’74, and alumnae from many generations came together during this year’s Reunion to celebrate Barnard’s successful peer-to-peer writing program.

June 26, 2023

Read about the 2022-2023 accomplishments from the Barnard community.

May 15, 2023

 As the world attempts to move beyond the pandemic, Barnard revisits a poetry series that has helped our community thrive during trying times.

April 15, 2022

Watson shares a poem about racial identity.

November 16, 2020