Dawn Watson | Granta

Dawn Watson

Dawn Watson is a writer from Belfast. Her poetry pamphlet The Stack of Owls is Getting Higher (2019) is published with The Emma Press. She currently teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University, where she is completing her PhD. Her work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and has appeared in literary journals including Granta, The Manchester Review, The Moth, and The Stinging Fly. She was selected as one of the 2018 Poetry Ireland Introductions Series poets, is a former national tabloid sub editor of 15 years and lives in Belfast.


We Play Here

Dawn Watson

We Play Here is a collection of four poem-stories, taking place in an underdeveloped area of Protestant North Belfast in the summer of 1988, against a background of political turbulence during the Troubles. Written from the perspectives of four female friends in the months between finishing primary school and starting high school, the girls inhabit an eerie, elemental landscape of normalised violence, poverty and neglect.

This is a lyrical and graceful evocation of working-class girlhood that rings of Elena Ferrante’s studies of female friendships in the Neapolitan novels, Didier Eribon’s Returning to Reims, and Annie Ernaux’s The Years. It is a radical approach to girlhood and girl-friendships, the kind of skewered space before an imposition of gender, or before the trappings of gender make themselves strongly known. Innocence is tinged here with a kind of hidden menace.