Deadline Nears for Waterston Desert Writing Prize

Are you a nonfiction writer whose prose explores the ethos or ecology of dry climates? If so, consider submitting to the High Desert Museum’s Waterston Desert Writing Prize, which offers $3,000 for a work of nonfiction that recognizes “the vital role deserts play worldwide in the ecosystem and the human narrative, with the desert as both subject and setting.” The winner will also be provided with travel and lodging to attend a reception and awards ceremony at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, in September, as well as the opportunity to attend a residency at PLAYA at Summer Lake.

Using the online submission system, submit up to 10 pages of nonfiction, a biographical statement, and a one-page project description by May 1. There is no entry fee. Works-in-progress as well as published and unpublished prose are eligible. Proposals will be reviewed by the Waterston Desert Writing Prize Advisory Committee and Rena Priest, the first Indigenous poet laureate of Washington. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Last year’s prize winner was Caroline Tracey for “Salt Lakes,” a group of eighteen essays offering a queer take on the eponymous water bodies, which are under threat due to climate change. Founded in 2014 by writer Ellen Waterston, the High Desert Museum’s Waterston Desert Writing Prize has a mission to “strengthen and support the literary arts and humanities in the High Desert region through recognition of literary excellence in nonfiction writing about desert landscapes, through community interaction with the winning authors of the annual prize, and presentations and programs that take place in association with the program,” according to the museum’s website. Oregon’s High Desert region includes most of Central Oregon, beginning east of the Cascade mountains at the “high” elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level. The High Desert Museum is located on 135 acres that offer a “close-up view of native wildlife, such as river otters, porcupines and raptors” and 100,000 square feet of exhibition space.

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