Erica Dawson


(813) 257-6311



401 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33606

Building Location

PH 247

Meet Erica Dawson

Director/MFA Program; Associate Professor, English and Writing

Education: 2001 The Johns Hopkins University, B.A. 
2006 The Ohio State University, MFA 
2010 University of Cincinnati, Ph.D.

Courses Taught: Academic Writing
The Romantic Writers
Introduction to Creative Writing
Poetry Writing I
Poetry Writing II
Poetic Forms
Advanced Poetry Seminar
Graduate Poetry Writing

Career Specialties:

Erica Dawson specializes in contemporary American poetry, contemporary African American Poetry, Shakespearean drama, the Cavalier poets, and aesthetics and poetics. She teaches undergraduate courses and low-residency MFA graduate courses in the English and Writing Department.

Dawson is the author of three books of poetry: When Rap Spoke Straight to God (Tin House, 2018); The Small Blades Hurt, winner of the Florida Book Award bronze medal (Measure Press, 2014); and, Big-Eyed Afraid, winner of the 2006 Anthony Hecht Prize (Waywiser, 2007). When Rap Spoke Straight to God has been featured in LitHub, The Los Angeles Review of Books and The New York Times Magazine. She recently appeared on PBS NewsHour, discussing African-American poetry. Her poems have appeared in three editions of Best American Poetry, Resistance, Rebellion, Life: 50 Poems Now, Harvard Review, Literary Imagination, The Believer, Virginia Quarterly Review, and numerous other journals and anthologies. Her prose has appeared in The Rumpus. She has published reviews and criticism in Ecotone, Florida Review, At Length Magazine and other publications.

Professional and Community Activities:

Dawson's third book, a book-length poem, When Rap Spoke Straight to God, was published in September 2018. She is currently working on a collection of essays examining the intersections of the personal and the political.

She is a member of the Association of Writers and Writing Program’s Board of Trustees, and sits on the advisory board of The Porter House Review, Texas State University’s literary journal. She has taught workshops for the Florida Arts Coalition’s Other Words Conference, the Sandhill Writers Retreat, the Disquiet International Literary Program and other organizations.

In Tampa, Dawson is an active member of the arts community, regularly working with children in several local schools, including Academy of Holy Names, Benito Middle School, Harrison School of the Arts and the Vanguard School of Lake Wales.

Honors and Awards:

  • 2018 Pushcart Prize (“Condition”)
  • 2016 Poets’ Prize (The Small Blades Hurt)
  • Selection for The Best American Poetry 2015 (“Slow-Wave Sleep with a Fairy Tale”)
  • 2014 Florida Book Award bronze medal (The Small Blades Hurt)
  • 2013 University of Tampa Unsung Hero Award
  • Selection for The Best American Poetry 2012 (“Back Matter”)
  • 2012 University of Tampa College of Arts and Letters Excellence in Teaching Award
  • 2011 University of Tampa Sigma Tau Delta Professor of the Year
  • Charles Phelps Taft Dissertation Fellowship, University of Cincinnati, September 2009
  • Selection for The Best American Poetry 2008 (“Parallax”)
  • Best Debut of 2007, Contemporary Poetry Review (Big-Eyed Afraid)
  • 2006 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, Mary Jo Salter, judge. (Publication of Big-Eyed Afraid
  • Alfred C. Yates Fellowship, University of Cincinnati, September 2006
  • Elliston Fellowship in Poetry, Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of Cincinnati, September 2006
  • Academy of American Poets’ Prize, The Ohio State University, May 2006