PERSONAL: Born in Reno, Alberta, Canada; immigrated to the United States; married Robert Watson. Education: St. Edward's University, B.A. (summa cum laude); Regis University, M.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—Austin, TX. Office—Nekoda Development Institute, 7101 Highway 71 W., Ste. 200, Austin, TX 78735. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Nekoda Development Institute, Austin, TX, on staff as developer of workshops, seminars, and retreats; has worked as a teacher and facilitator of workshops in Canada and the United States.
MEMBER: International Women's Writing Guild, American Society of Training and Development (Austin, TX, chapter), Texas Writer's Guild, Story Circle Network, Spirit at Work.
Gifts (poetry), National Library of Poetry (Owings Mills, MD), 1996.
The Sitting Swing (memoir), Plain View Press (Austin, TX), 2005.
Managing editor, Reader Views (book review service).
SIDELIGHTS: In her memoir The Sitting Swing, Irene Watson tells of her upbringing as the child of Russian immigrants carving out a new life for themselves in a farming community during the 1940s in the Canadian north country. As the daughter and second child in an intensely authoritarian family, which had already disgraced itself in its own eyes through the death of the eldest son, Irene was vulnerable throughout her childhood. "My parents' upbringing," the author told Norm Goldman in an interview posted on BookPleasures.com, "was typical of their culture where the household is run under stern patriarchal or matriarchal rule, casting them as authoritarian parents. Their parents were highly demanding but not responsive to the child's needs. They expected their orders to be obeyed without explanation—do as I say, not as I do." "I believe that my parents' upbringing was very influential towards me because they continued the same parenting style as my grandparents did," Watson told Goldman. "On top of that, the blame and shame cast on my mother because of her perceived weakness that caused the child's death placed much fear into her. She was not going to loose another child and the only way she could do that is show her strength (control.)"
Watson's book shows the author's emotional pain, which developed as a result of her circumscribed upbringing and from the fact that she was largely ignored by her father and alternately suffocated and abused by her mother. "Irene's world," explained reviewer Rebecca Brown on the Rebecca Reads Web site, "was smothered by old world immigrant culture and blame, and of her mother who kept Irene close to home, segregated from the new culture, and the target of aggression by male cousins and scornful townspeople." "This is an earnest memoir, well structured," declared a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "though the writing lacks rigorous urgency." However, "the result is a moving narrative." Goldman concluded that the memoir provides "readers with a superb snapshot of one woman's quest to free herself from self-defeating repetitive patterns and dependencies."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Publishers Weekly, November 28, 2005, review of The Sitting Swing, p. 42.
Authors Den, http://www.authorsden.com/ (March 15, 2006), Shaila Abdulla, review of The Sitting Swing, and brief biography of Irene Watson.
Book Crossing, http://www.bookcrossing.com/ (March 15, 2006), review of The Sitting Swing.
BookIdeas.com, http://www.bookideas.com/ (March 15, 2006), Norman Goldman, review of The Sitting Swing.
BookPleasures.com, http://www.bookpleasures.com/ (March 15, 2006), Norm Goldman, interview with Irene Watson.
Irene Watson Web Site, http://www.irenewatson.com (March 15, 2006).
Rebecca's Reads, http://rebeccasreads.com/ (March 15, 2006), Rebecca Brown, review of The Sitting Swing.
Story Circle Network, http://www.storycircle.org/ (March 15, 2006), Peggy Talley, review of The Sitting Swing.