Waterston Desert Writing Prize

Stay tuned for the official launch of the Waterston Desert Writing Prize in October 2014. The submission period will be from January through March 15 of 2015, with an award announcement in June 2015. When I moved from New England to a ranch in the high desert of Oregon in 1973, I found my muse in this landscape and, inspired by the Ellen Meloy Desert Writing Prize (www.ellenmeloy.com), the goal is that another award specific to nonfiction writing about the desert will increase desert literature and awareness of these beautiful and fragile landscapes and their inhabitants. The Waterston Desert Writing Prize will, like the Meloy, recognize writing that "demonstrates an engaging individual voice, literary sensibility, imagination and intellectual rigor to bring new perspectives and deeper meaning to the body of desert literature." Applications will be evaluated using a peer review process.

Considerations in the selection process will be:

  • the writing sample's artistic excellence, sensitivity to place, and desert literacy
  • the proposal's strength
  • the author biography's ability to demonstrate a history and future of writing and desert experience

Emerging, mid-career or established writers in the field of literary nonfiction are encouraged to apply. Financial and other kinds of need, the body of past work, geographic location of the applicant, academic career, professional reputation, etcetera, are not criteria for receipt of this award.

In addition to the 2015 cash prize of $1,000 (this will grow as the endowment grows), the award includes a reading and reception at the High Desert Museum of Bend, Oregon, and a residency at Playa at Summer Lake. The award funds are generated by an endowment established while I was the founder/director of The Nature of Words. After over a decade at the helm, I passed the baton in 2012. Sadly, the organization closed its doors in the spring of 2014. However, the very good news is the endowment will live on. More details will be posted soon.

Help grow the prize! Donations to the endowment can be made to Waterston Desert Writing Prize, P.O. Box 640, Bend, OR 97709. The Waterston Writing Prize is a 501 (c) 3. Contributions are tax deductible.