Dazzle Patterns

 My novel (long in the works) is coming out in the fall with Freehand Press (Calgary)

Here's what you'll find in their catalogue:

Beginning the day of the devastating Halifax Explosion of 1917, Dazzle Patterns is an unforgettable story about loss, the resilience of the human spirit, and the transformative power of art. While Clare Holmes waits for her fiancé, Leo, to return from the war in France, she works as a flaw checker at the Halifax glassworks. It is there that she meets Fred Baker, a mysterious master glassmaker who was trained in his home country of Germany. After the disastrous explosion on December 6, 1917 — which killed 2000, injured thousands more, and is said to have shattered every window in the city — Clare, Leo, and Fred’s lives become irrevocably intertwined. In the chaos and turmoil of the war and the aftermath of the explosion, Clare finds solace in drawing, but is further devastated when Leo is reported missing. Meanwhile, tensions in the community quickly rise: who was responsible for the explosion? Could there be German collaborators in their midst? When Fred is arrested, Clare is determined to find a way to prove her new friend’s innocence. Dazzle Patterns is a moving story about three people making their way through harrowing, impossible times. With extraordinary vision and clarity, Alison Watt’s remarkable debut novel brings the past to life.





a poem and a novel 

My chapbook, "Crossing" is finally done and ready to launch! I'll be reading on Wednesday, November 23, 5:00-6:30, at Mon Petit Choux, 101 Commercial St., Nanaimo, along with the poets Leanne McIntosh, K. Louise Vincent, and Ursula Vaira. (A chapbook is a publication of up to about 40 pages, usually poetry, often handmade, folded, or wrapped.)



I wrote this poem after my husband and I sailed for a year in the Pacific. You can read about that crossing here.

Prose breaks into poetry, fracturing when we try to describe the ineffable. As if space is needed to let the the mystery of being alive slip into the conversation.

'Crossing' is a long poem which unfolds (literally, in a handmade accordian book) as an sailing passage from Mexico to the Marquesas. It is a meditation on memory, fate, agency, wind, sea, and stars. It is being published by Leaf Press.

Looking back on the project, which has been several years in the making, writing the poem was the easiest part.

If you followed the story of the guy who made his own toaster you will know that his main lesson was that "it takes an entire civilization to build a toaster. Designer Thomas Thwaites found out the hard way, by attempting to build one from scratch: mining ore for steel, deriving plastic from oil ..."

That's how making this book felt and why it took me so long to finish it. I worked on the poem initially in a directed studies with the poet Gary Geddes, while I was completing my MFA in Creative Writing at UBC, in 2013. When my publisher, Ursula Vaira of Leaf Press, took it on, she contributed her edits. Isabel Stukator, a graphic designer in Peterborough, Ontario formatted the poem, chose the font, and fashioned trhe small moon icons which wax with the poem. I had to consult the artist and bookmaker Joan Byers, in Saanich BC, twice. I sat with her in her studio, while she patiently showed me her tools, the special heavy compass she ordered from an auto company for marking fold lines, and the bone folders for scoring. She suggested the beautiful blue cover paper, from St. Armand paper factory, outside Montreal. I had to wait several months after I ordered the paper from the owner, Denise LaPointe, as they prepared the denim off-cuts for the hand-laid run. I made several trips to Victoria to talk to Tracy Olson, of Denman Printworks, about the file, to choose paper for the book and for the printed watercolour covers. I bought 90 lb Arches watercolour paper from my local art store, Iron Oxide, for the 20 original watercolours I painted for the print run. I visited scrapbooking stores to pick up special tape (from Korea) for where the papers must be joined to create an accordian and to choose the string which binds the finished book. Finally, various friends, Alina Newton, Cynthia Coles, Valley Hennell, Ursula Vaira, and especially, Denise Bonin, have helped me make the books, trimming the sheets from the printer, scoring, folding, taping, attaching covers and cover images....It turns out 200 books have taken many days to construct! The long hours in the studio made me wonder if we have lost an important experience in modern times, the repetitive task done collectively, which allows for silence, intersperced with idle conversation, which can veer effortlessly from the superficial to the profound.

cover images:



















































Now, the only role left is the reader! You can order a copy of "Crossing" from Leaf Press

Other news: my novel Dazzle Patterns will come out next fall with Freehand Press. Watch this space....



Fall Notes

I hope your summer has been wonderful. My own has passed in a blur but I managed to grab a bit of it in sketches. Check out my new blog post: summer sketches to see what I’ve been up to.

Next week I’m off to France to offer a workshop in Paris and the little village of Espedaillac, with my co-teacher, the Toronto writer/artist Kelley Aitken.

Before I go, I thought I’d get my fall news to you. You can check my teaching page to see what classes I will be offering in my studio and other sites. I'm excited and honoured to be part of a week long program of workshops followed by a pop-up show at Nanaimo Art Gallery in the first week of October.

On the writing front, I will be launching a hand-crafted chapbook, Crossing, with Leaf Press, in late October. Crossing is a long poem about sailing the Pacific, from Mexico to the Marquesas, a contemplation of waves, stars, oceanic life and time as well as personal and family history. And recently had news that my novel, Dazzle Patterns, set in Halifax during and after her Halifax explosion, will come out next fall, the centenary of the explosion, with Freehand Press, Calgary. 


Wine Labels

I recently did something I have always wanted to do--design wine labels. The couple, Ashley and James, both naturalists, wanted a gull for the white, and an oystercatcher for the red wine which would be served at the wedding.

Here are the images I designed for them. In making them, I discovered I was adding to a field guide to birds on wine labels

Black Oystercatcher

 Glaucous-winged Gull




Dreaming of Painting in France? 

My good friend Kelley Aitken  and I are excited about offering painting classes in 2017 in Paris and southwest France. Follow the teaching page for updates.