5 Questions for: Olivia Dawson

Olivia DawsonPaper Swans Press and Olivia Dawson

Olivia Dawson’s poem, Pear Shaped was published in The Chronicles of Eve. Olivia’s poem, Through a Gap in the Hedge was highly commended in our The Poetry of Roses competition for The National Trust, Sissinghurst.



Olivia Dawson has been commended in various competitions such as Second Light, The Poetry Society Stanza Poetry Competition and the ‘Roses’ competition run by Paper Swans Press. She has also been long-listed in the National Poetry Competition. Poems have been published, or are forthcoming, in various magazines, printed or online,  such as ARTEMIS poetry, Magma, Poetry News, And Other Poems, Visual Verse and in the anthology The Chronicles of Eve, Paper Swans Press and The Poetry of Roses pamphlet, Paper Swans Press.


When did you first start writing poetry and why?

I started a Literature degree with the Open University in 2007 and saved the Creative Writing modules as my treat for the final two years. I never dreamt I would write poetry. I wrote my first poem for the OU in 2010 which opened a door that has never closed. I can still remember getting up at 3:a.m. to work on my poem as I was so excited by what I was writing.


What is your proudest moment, so far, in your poetry career?

My first poem was published in 2013 in Magma and I read it at The Troubadour. The room was packed and I will never forget the buzz of that evening.


If you had to save just one poetry book from your bookshelf, what would it be and why?

My mother has a large collection of poetry books which I now have at home. I would save her copy of The Frog Prince and Other Poems by Stevie Smith as I know how much she loves it.


What do you find inspires you to write? Surroundings? Life-experiences? Prompts? Or something else…

My Inspiration comes from unexpected places and often at inopportune moments. It can come from a snippet of conversation, a strange atmosphere, a photograph. I always have a notebook with me so I can catch the moment before it vanishes. A lot of my inspiration has come from online courses with the wonderful Poetry School where I’ve been lucky enough to study with poets such as Carrie Etter, Katrina Naomi and Rebecca Goss.


You live in Lisbon. What is the poetry scene like there?

When I started writing poetry I found Portuguese poetry conflicted with what I was trying to achieve in English, so I made a conscious decision to put it on the back burner. I live outside Lisbon and sometimes it’s very hard to find out what is happening until it’s over. I started a Stanza group in Portugal in 2011 and we are interested in inviting Portuguese poets to share our next reading with us, so I will now be diving into the poetry scene in Lisbon.


And, finally. Which poem would you like to share with us?

I would like share my first published poem &. The theme for that issue of Magma was The Shape of the Poem. 


This ampersand
is a knitted stitch
holds us together.
Mr & Mrs or A & F
always & forever.

A special character
a code “& amp”
the last letter per se
a link in the chain.

Dangly earrings
crocodile tears,
the hooks where
we hang our hats.

A sitting lotus
it curls half twisted
gathers us in

drop it
we’ll unravel

go our separate ways

no you & me
h& in h&.

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