Samuel Wagan Watson
Samuel Wagan Watson
|Born||1972 (age 48–49)|
|Parent(s)||Sam Watson (father)|
|Relatives||Nicole Watson (sister), brother (name unknown)|
Samuel Wagan Watson was born in 1972 in Brisbane, to an Indigenous Australian father, the novelist and political activist, Sam Watson, and an Anglo-Australian mother. Watson grew up in Caboolture West and completed his secondary studies at Morayfield State High School, with his sister Nicole, a lawyer. Watson is of Irish, German, Bundjalung and Birri Gubba descent. In his youth, Watson enjoyed fishing and diving off the end of a jetty in Brisbane with friends.
Watson originally was known as an author of short stories, however changed focus to poetry after many rejections from companies. Watson's shift was inspired by one such company noting that his writing contained good poetic elements. Watson's first poems were in sonnet form, in contrast to the free verse of his current style. The themes of his poetry range from observations of everyday experience, to the effects of colonisation in a vividly direct, almost tactile, language.
In the late 1990s, Watson was invited to participate in a Brisbane City Council project to raise awareness of the Boondall Wetlands, alongside fellow poets Brett Dionysius and Liz Hall-Downs. 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 indigenous history and the experiences of European settlers. In 2000 an audio CD was produced of the three poets' work, called Blackfellas Whitefellas Wetlands. The very different voices and focus of the poets worked together to create a sense or place and of history.
His 2004 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 featuring soprano Margaret Schindler and the Southern Cross Soloists, with Ron Haddrick narrating.
Watson is sharing a house with his brother, who has been described in an interview as 'someone who loves to play music', and his spouse.
Watson recognises the influence of his parents in his work, and also cited Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski and Robert Adamson as influences. Watson says that music helps him write, and says that it 'is a major influence on (his) poetry'. He also says that music helps to block out outside noise, especially from his brother.
Awards and nominations
- 1999 — Queensland Premier's Literary Awards, David Unaipon Award for an Emerging Indigenous Writers for Of Muse, Meandering and Midnight
- 2005 — New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards, Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry Book of the Year for Smoke Encrypted Whispers
- 2018 — Patrick White Literary Award
Samuel Watson has also received a Highly Commended in both the Anne Elder Awards and the 2000 Award for Outstanding Contributions to Australian Culture.
- Of Muse, Meandering and Midnight. (UQP, 1999) ISBN 0-7022-3174-6
- Itinerant Blues. (UQP, 2002) ISBN 0-7022-3282-3 reviewed
- Hotel Bone (Vagabone Press, 2001)
- Smoke Encrypted Whispers. (UQP, 2004) ISBN 0-7022-3471-0 review
- Three legged dogs, and other poems. (Picaro Press, 2005) OCLC: 69249268
Articles and other publications
- "Cold Storage". The Literary Review. 45 (1): 108. 2001. ISSN 0024-4589.
- "Hotel Bone". Jacket Magazine. Jacket 16. March 2002.
- "Recipe for Metropolis Brisbane" (– Scholar search). Southerly. 62 (2). June 2002.[dead link]
- "Boondall Wetlands, ... falling mother sky: A Collection of Poetry". Brisbane City Council, Brisbane Stories. 1996. Archived from the original on 31 May 2004.
- Watson, Samuel Wagan; Brett Dionysius; Liz Hall-Downs (2000). "Blackfellas Whitefellas Wetlands". CD. unknown.
- "Brisbane City Council: Blackfellas Whitefellas Wetlands". 4 July 2007. Archived from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 3 July 2007.
- "The Cortland Review by David Kennedy". Spring 2002.
- "Fine Australian poems in lovingly crafted musical settings", Limelight, June 2013, p. 79
- "Booked Out Speaker's Agency". 4 July 2007. Archived from the original on 1 September 2007.
- "Samuel Wagan Watson wins 2018 Patrick White Literary Award | Books+Publishing". Retrieved 31 October 2018.
- "Poet Samuel Wagan Watson". abc.net.au. 17 August 2005. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
- Review of Smoke at Australian Humanities Review
- Messagestick Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Online Review 4 July 2007
- ABC Queensland review by radio presenters Steve Austin & Hilary Beaton
- Brisbane Stories 1996-2005 Artists in Boondall Wetlands - 2002
- Gehrmann, S. (2016, 6 October). Interview of Watson S W. Brisbane Grammar School interview.