Dawn Leas

Literature • Writer • Poet



Dawn Leas is the author of Take Something When You Go, (Winter Goose Publishing 2016), and I Know When to Keep Quiet,(Finishing Line Press, 2010). Her work has appeared in Literary Mama, San Pedro River Review, The Pedestal Magazine, SWWIM, Southern Florida Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Her work won an honorable mention in the 2005 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has given readings and workshops in Pennsylvania, New York City, New Jersey, Washington, DC, Minnesota, Florida, and Hawaii. In past lives she has been a copywriter, independent-school admissions director, English teacher, stay-at-home mom and worked in higher-ed administration. Currently, she is a freelance writer, editor and writing coach. She also received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. For more information, please visit www.thehammockwriter.com.

Dawn Leas
Artist’s Statement

I write to remember and forget.

I write to connect and distance myself.

I write to go back and move forward.

I write to honor.

I write to shake ideas free and to work through challenges.

I write to escape and create.

I write to try and make sense of this beautiful, messy life.

I write because I want to know why.

I write because I don’t know what life would be like without it.


Working mainly in the lyrical narrative realm, I have explored place  – its people, its landscape, and the sense of belonging or not belonging in it. I have written about the deep trails family forges to and away from one another; how alcoholism and recovery impact those trails; how religion and spirituality pervade conscious and subconscious beliefs; and how they play integral roles in the formation of those beliefs; communication between individuals and how it, or its absence, affects relationships. I often use nature as a metaphor, in particular the cyclical change of seasons, water, and trees. Another interest of mine is writing poems with a narrative arc acting as a thread to stitch them together.

I am always intrigued by the look of a poem on the page – the use of line breaks and white space to add to and strengthen the meaning of a piece. Sometimes, I write prose poems. Sometimes, I write in more traditional stanza lines, mainly couplets, tercets, and quatrains. But, I’ll always continue to toy with dips and turns of white space as well as shorter lines mingled with longer lines. I love writing free verse, but I find that creating simple rules, such as stanzas that alternate between couplets and tercets or lines with set syllable length, helps me to learn more about poetry and my own writing; about how to place the “right words in the right order;” and about honing my revising and editing skills.

My work investigates the layers of life –  how they intersect, interact, invigorate and ignore one another.  Moving in, to and through place. Religion and spirituality. Nature and environment. Family and friends and lovers. Letting go and holding on. A see-saw of joy and sadness; boldness and fear. How are these connected?  What is meant to survive and what is mean to fade away? How is the topography of life mapped in memory and on the page?

The concepts of faith, connectedness and rootedness seem to continuously rise to the surface of my work – faith in self, in others, in a higher power, in a sense of home and belonging, and in nature. My work  also speaks to the opposite – unfaithfulness, disconnection, and uprootedness – in those same areas. I am always interested in delving deeper into how these opposites attract and how they repel one another.

Interested in working with one of our artists or planning a residency?