Samuel Wagan Watson

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Samuel Wagan Watson
Born 1972
Brisbane, Queensland
Occupation Poet
Parents Sam Watson

Samuel Wagan Watson (born 1972) is a contemporary Indigenous Australian poet.


Samuel Wagan Watson was born in Brisbane; his family is Irish, German, Bundjalung and Birri Gubba. His father is the novelist and political activist, Sam Watson. His poetry ranges from observation of everyday experience to the effects of colonisation in a vividly direct, almost tactile, language.

In the late 1990s the Brisbane City Council set up a project to raise awareness of the Boondall Wetlands. The project was set up to bring together historians, poets, photographers, environmentalists and designers and show the cultural history of the Wetlands, both the local indigneous history and the experiences of European settlers.[1] Samuel Watson was invited to this project, with the poets Brett Dionysius and Liz Hall-Downs, and in 2000 an audio CD was produced of their work, called Blackfellas Whitefellas Wetlands. The very different voices and focus of the three poets worked together to create a sense or place and of history.[2]

When asked in interview who had influenced him, Samuel Watson recognised the influence of his parents, and listed also Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski and Robert Adamson.[3]

His poetry collection Smoke Encrypted Whispers has been set to music by 23 Brisbane-based composers who each wrote a two-minute piece to respond to a particular poem. The project was commissioned by the clarinetist Paul Dean, who conducted a recording of the work with the narrator Ron Haddrick, the soprano Margaret Schindler, and the Southern Cross Soloists.[4]

The Japanese Aeronautical Exploration Agency has commissioned Watson to write some haiku to keep Japanese astronauts amused on the International Space Station.[4]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Samuel Watson has also received a Highly Commended in both the Anne Elder Awards and the 2000 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Australian Culture.[citation needed]



Articles and other publications[edit]

Other media[edit]

  • Watson, Samuel Wagan; Brett Dionysius and Liz Hall-Downs (2000). "Blackfellas Whitefellas Wetlands". CD (unknown). 

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Brisbane City Council: Blackfellas Whitefellas Wetlands". 4 July 2007. 
  2. ^ "The Cortland Review by David Kennedy". Spring 2002. 
  3. ^ "Booked Out Speaker's Agency". 4 July 2007. 
  4. ^ a b "Fine Australian poems in lovingly crafted musical settings", Limelight, June 2013, p. 79