Thank You to all who made the 2016 Waterston Desert Writing Prize Awards a Success!

Special thanks to:

  • High Desert Museum and its executive director, Dana Whitelaw, for hosting the award ceremony and reception;
  • PLAYA at Summer Lake and its executive director, Deborah Ford, for donating the four-week fellowship for 2016 winner Tara FitzGerald and for Deborah Ford's gifts of beautiful framed photos of the Playa for Tara and finalists Kenneth Garcia and Kimberley Meyers;
  • Waterston Desert Writing Prize Board of Directors for their dedication to reviewing submissions and choosing this year's winner and finalists, and for their support of the Prize.

Photos, left to right: Waterston Desert Writing Prize Board, with Tara FitzGerald (front row, center) Dana Whitelaw, High Desert Museum, and Deborah Ford, PLAYA at Summer Lake; Tara FitzGerald reading from her winning submission; Kenneth Garcia reading from his winning submission, Ellen Waterston (center) with Tara FitzGerald and Kenneth Garcia, displaying photo gift from Deborah Ford. Not shown: Board Members Julia Kennedy Cochran and Jennifer Delahunty.

Winner Tara FitzGerald read an excerpt of her book project, "No Water of Their Own." She said this in her opening remarks: "I’d like to say an enormous thank you to Ellen and to the members of the Waterston Desert Writing Prize committee, and also to the High Desert Museum for hosting us tonight. I’m incredibly honored and excited to have my work recognized in this way and I know it will provide a huge boost to me as I move forward with finishing my book." Click here to read Tara's excerpt.

Focused on the desertification of the Aral Sea in Central Asia, Fitzgerald's work poses the question of "What happens when a sea becomes a desert, and when a sea people therefore become a desert people?" Once considered one of the four largest lakes in the world, the Aral Sea has been steadily shrinking since the 1960's. Come hear why, and how local communities have been impacted by these changes.

Finalist Kenneth Garcia read from his memoir, "The House of Radiant Colors." He describes his experience working for a mining exploration company in northeastern Nevada during his late teens, and the hard-nosed geologist who could not see the beauty of the place.

For more information about the Waterston Desert Writing Prize visit