Biography, Links and Contact Details

This page provides general information.  For more details on books, readings, exhibitions and music, please use the links to the left.

Giles Watson was born in Southampton, but emigrated to Australia with his parents at the age of one, and lived there for the next twenty-five years.  He returned to live in England between 1995 and 2013, staying in Durham, Buckinghamshire, the Isles of Scilly and Oxfordshire.  In addition to poetry and painting, he writes essays on natural history and mediaeval visual culture, is an avid walker, photographer and amateur naturalist, and has a keen interest in theatre. His academic work has included a doctoral thesis on religion and culture in England during the Second World War.  As a secondary school teacher, he has taught English, History, Drama, Sociology and Film.  Much of his work is infused with his own idiosyncratic spirituality: awed by nature, steeped in history, and inspired by a quiet sense of the sacramental.   Until November 2013, he lived in rural Oxfordshire, where the landscape, archaeology, flora and fauna provided continual inspiration for his work, including The Flight of the White Horse, a poem-cycle with soft pastel illustrations, and more recently, A Kind of Bright Darkness, a collection of sonnets, song-lyrics and other poems written on the eve of his departure from England.  A recent tribute, Last Words for Edward Thomas, was written on a trip to the World War I battlefields.  He has also written a short horror novella, The Butcher's Wife. He now lives in Albany, Western Australia, and his first Australian collection, Strandings is now available.  He has a daughter living in Sydney, and is Tutor in Literary Theory at the University of Western Australia.

Giles's fascination with mediaeval poetry has led to a series of paraphrasing and translation projects, including modern English versions of Pearl, The Three Dead Kings, The Anturs of Arther and the works of Dafydd ap Gwilym.   Examples of his botanical poetry have been published in Zoe Devlin's The Wildflowers of Ireland.  He has a long-standing song-writing partnership with a composer, Kathryn Wheeler, and is currently compiling a collection of poems and song-lyrics on folkloric and mythological themes, Real Myth, which will contain illustrations by the photo-artist Buffarches.  An interest in early scientific expeditions to Australia has been a further inspiration, culminating in the forthcoming publication of A New Holland Miscellany.  He has also written for the stage, and has been drama-director and stage-designer for productions of Oliver, Fiddler on the Roof, Boogie Nights and Annie.

His books of poetry and translations, many of which he has illustrated, can be viewed and purchased here:

Five years ago, Giles wrote a series of essays for The Cauldron on the folklore of natural history.  An illustrated edition of these, titled A Witch's Natural History, has recently been published by Troy Books, and is available here:

His poetry and lyrics on scientific subjects can be viewed here:

Readings and short films of his poems are here:

Here is an article on his work by the Australian author, Anna Tambour:

Giles can be contacted at:

"He has a wonderful sensibility for the layered British landscape and for a kind of bright darkness."
- Vahni Capildeo

"Giles Watson's subjects and his poems are very much alike—wonders too little known... 
He writes not only of what he sees, feels, and has tasted... but of the soil that clings to these things—soil composed of tales about them, dense, ancient and complex as peat; history that surrounds them, be they small as a spore or large and unmapped as the insides of a certain tree; reputation fearsome, musty, and beloved. Always, and unusually for one who writes, he stands away from the centre of attention..."
- Anna Tambour

Paper Angels

Paper angels in the parish church
Sing like ghosts of insects
Escaping cocoons of tissue-shroud,
Scaling filaments of spider-web
Toward their vault of heaven.
Their antennae have looped themselves
And fused into haloes, as they rise,
Bleached mayflies in a nimbus cloud.
Sunlight tickles them into
Subsonic stridulations, glorying
In their metamorphoses, spiring
On glued and crumpled wings:
White imagoes on frames of wire
Surveying paradise with compound eyes.

Poem by Giles Watson, 19 February 2010. Inspired by a display of paper angels at St Michael and All Angels Church, Summertown, Oxford.

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