Dawn Promislow was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa and has lived in Toronto since 1987.
She was mentored at the Humber School for Writers by Olive Senior, and published her first collection in 2010 (Jewels and Other Stories, Mawenzi House). The title story of the collection was anthologized in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, 2010, and "Billy," another of the stories, was short-listed for UK-based Wasafiri's New Writing Prize, 2009. Jewels and Other Stories was long-listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award 2011, and named one of the eight best fiction debuts of 2011 by The Globe and Mail.
Dawn has published numerous other short stories, poems, and essays, in Numéro Cinq, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Berfrois, Munyori Literary Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, StoryTime, Random House's Hazlitt, and SLiP (Stellenbosch Literary Project), among others.
Her poem "lemon" was shortlisted for the Berfrois New Poetry Prize 2015.
She has received grants from the Ontario Arts Council, a Writers' Works-in-Progress grant and several Recommender's grants among them.
Dawn has taught creative writing at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, in a workshop she designed that drew connections between writing and visual art. She's spoken to school classes about writing and short stories, and at book clubs, universities, arts festivals, libraries, on CBC Radio Canada International, and others, about short stories and writing. She was the 2015-2016 writer-in-residence at the Toronto Heliconian Club.
She continues to publish short fiction and poetry.
Wan, a novel, came out with Freehand Books on May 1, 2022.