Alexandra Watson

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

Department

English, First Year Foundation

Office

268 Barnard Hall
W 3-5 pm

Contact

Alex Watson is a fiction writer and poet from New York whose work is concerned with race, class, addiction and mental illness. She’s the executive editor of Apogee Journal, and she received the 2019 PEN/Nora Magid Prize for Literary Magazine editing. She has secured grant funding for Apogee from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Her fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Painted Bride Quarterly, The Nation, The South Carolina Review, The Common, The Bennington Review, The Rumpus, Yes Poetry, Nat. Brut., Redivider, PANK, and others. She is the founder of the Cite Black Barnard Initiative and a recipient of two Barnard Innovation in Teaching awards.

  • 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

 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

Read about the new accomplishments of Barnard scholars.

September 21, 2020