Ellen Doré Watson was born in Glen Cove, New York, in 1950 and earned both a BA and an MFA from the University of Massachusetts. Her first poetry collection, We Live in Bodies, was published by Alice James Books in 1997. Robert Pinsky describes her work in this debut as “interrogative, tender, wildly inventive, with the wonder of childhood and a grown woman’s comic sense.”
She is also the author of pray me stay eager (Alice James Books, 2018), Dogged Hearts (Tupelo Press, 2010), This Sharpening (Tupelo Press, 2006), and Ladder Music (Alice James Books, 2002), winner of Alice James Books’ 2000 New York/New England Award. According to Watson, while her earlier books were “firmly based in autobiography,” with Dogged Hearts she took on “the task of writing a series of poems, each in the voice of a different created character.” In praise of Dogged Hearts, Gerald Stern writes, “The poems are wild, delirious—they go every which way—yet the (smart) organizing principle is this mind, ever alert, choosing and sorting.”
Watson is also a prolific translator and has translated several books from Brazilian Portuguese into English, including The Alphabet in the Park: Selected Poems (Wesleyan Poetry in Translation, 1990) and other books by Adélia Prado. She serves as the translation editor of The Massachusetts Review.
She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship, and a 1990 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Grant, and in 1998 Library Journal named her one of “24 Poets for the 21st Century.” She directs the Poetry Center at Smith College and lives in Massachusetts.