Alexandra Watson

Lecturer, First-Year Writing

Department

English, First Year Foundation

Office

268 Barnard Hall

Contact

Alexandra Watson is a co-founder and executive editor of Apogee Journal, a national publication dedicated to highlighting marginalized voices in literature and the arts, where she has secured grant funding for community writing workshops through the New York State Council of the Arts and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. She has taught in Columbia's Undergraduate Writing program and at the nonprofit college access program Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America, where she served as Assistant Director of Writing Instruction. She worked as an adjunct writing consultant in both Columbia and Baruch College's writing programs. She began teaching at Barnard in 2015. Her fiction, poetry, and interviews have appeared in Nat. Brut., Redivider, PANK, Lit Hub, the James Franco Review, and Apogee. She is the recipient of the 2019 PEN/Nora Magid Prize for Literary Magazine editing. She's working on her debut novel.

  • 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

  • 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

  • ​​​​​​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