Hilary Watson grew up in and around Cardiff. She graduated from the University of Warwick Writers’ Programme with a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing and an MA in Writing. She was a Jerwood/Arvon Mentee 2015/16 with mentor Caroline Bird alongside fellow poets Rachel Long and Emma Simon. She was shortlisted for the Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2019 and the Live Canon Prize in 2015, and has recently been published in a number of UK and Irish magazine such as the Butcher's Dog, Interpreter's House, Impossible Archetype. She works in the third sector and is currently writing her first collection. 



They make the aisles on planes

extra wide to fit the horses in.

Grief is unpredictable, the way

it breaks forty-thousand feet

above the Labrador Sea, pins

you between hooves and ribs.

A voice behind says ‘Mummy,

the sky looks like a red puddle.’

You lift your mask to check.

This poem first appeared in The Butcher's Dog #11 2019



A man pushes in front of you in Co-op.
You eat the man then ask the cashier
for Menthol Super Slims and change
for the bus.

There’s a puddle in the park
that your friend’s dog shows
a fondness for. Remove your coat.
Fold it. Take off your shoes,
tie the laces and fling them
at an impossibly high branch.
Having doffed all clothing
double-dress your friend.
If alone, dress the tree already sporting
a fabulous pair of brogues.
You’ll wade through the water,
realise it’s only ankle deep.

When the postwoman ignores the
No Shit Through the Door, Diolch
you put up yesterday, drench her face
with your claws, lest she forget
and repeats the mistake.

Be kinder to pigeons. Really.
They are your lost childhood
reincarnate in pigeon-form.

Sleep. Belly-up
the sun
cares to shine.

Poop discreetly.

Ignore all written instructions henceforth.
You are not illiterate or dyslexic or slow.
You’re a fucking tiger. Deal with the thing.

This poem was shortlisted for the Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2018.

What the judges said: "7 Ways of Being More Tiger, by Hilary Watson: yes, I’m sold. I’d like to be more tiger. Witty, fun but always truthful, the poem brings to life our internal, helpless everyday emotions and directs them through tigerishness towards a roaring resolution. The plain, direct language enhances the push and pull of the poem, its drama and comedy."— Jo Shapcott  



Gum shield gone,

wrist guards,

gold helmet, straps

around the knees,

gaskets, shin pads.

Elbows. Shoes.

Socks, leggings,

top soaked

in other people's

sweat, knickers rolled,

bathroom floor.

Shower warming,

new bruises, tired arms,


on quads, biceps.

Velcro scratch,

purpled palm,

stiffened back.

Towelled dry,

matching bra and pants,

tights, dress with sash,

hair brushed,

hair dried, flat shoes.

Umbrella, clutch,

taxi below the cherry blossom

blocking up the road.

This poem first appeared in The North #58 Summer 2017



Night’s setting in. The only night.

Let’s drive far from redbrick rows

to roads that weave

through whale-bone trees


as stars burst

over farms

and silent commons,

chase the frost-flecked air

as full beams grasp

a fox tail’s rush

through hedge.

     Jolt right,

a hedgehog

taps slow toes

on tarmac;

slow like midnight’s freezing stream.

Your chassis’ brittle ribs

flake and flutter

like moonbeam caught in bracken.

Moths catch in whirlpool whips

of headlights

rattling along

the pockmarked trail

until I cut the engine out.

This poem was shortlisted for the Live Canon Prize 2015.

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