The Waterston Desert Writing Prize was established in 2014 and inspired by author and poet Ellen Waterston’s love of the High Desert, a region that has been her muse for more than 40 years.
The Prize provides financial and other support to writers whose work reflects a similar connection to the desert, recognizing the vital role deserts play worldwide in the ecosystem and the human narrative. Proposals will be reviewed by the Waterston Desert Writing Prize Advisory Committee and the 2023 guest judge, Rena Priest, the first Indigenous poet laureate of the state of Washington and the winner of a 2018 American Book Award for Patriarchy Blues.
Submission window is open now for the 2023 Waterston Desert Writing Prize.
Submission deadline is Monday, May 1, 2023 at 11:59 pm.
Eligibility for the 2023 Waterson Desert Writing Contest
- Nonfiction writers who illustrate artistic excellence, sensitivity to place and desert literacy with the desert as both subject and setting.
- The award supports literary nonfiction writers who are completing, proposing, or considering the creation of a book-length manuscript.
- It is recommended the writing sample submitted is part of the proposed project or closely represents it in content and style.
- Fill out the online application form on Submittable. This form is the only location identifying information (your name, address, email) should appear.
- Upload ONE Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF file. Combine the three parts of the application described below into one document and do not place your name or other identifying information on any page of the document.
- Biographical Statement: One double-spaced page in 12-point type and one-inch margins. Do not disclose your identity in this information. A resumé or curriculum vitae will not be accepted. Provide a brief narrative that summarizes:
- Your educational, professional, publication, and writing experience
- How the Waterston Desert Writing Prize award will benefit your work
- Your commitment to making a meaningful contribution to the body of desert literature
- Proposal Title and Description: No more than one double-spaced page in 12-point type and one-inch margins. The description should include:
- Proposal title
- Brief description of the project
- Desert locations included in the project’s research
- Brief description of how the project will contribute to desert literature and expand knowledge of the deserts
- NOTE: A budget is not required
- Writing Sample: No more than 10 double-spaced pages in 12-point type and one-inch margins. Please keep in mind:
- Writing samples that are in other genres such as poetry, fiction or juvenile literature will be disqualified.
- Writing samples can be published material or unpublished drafts.
- You must be the sole author and have full ownership of the work.
- Any extra materials included with the proposal, and not requested in these guidelines, will not be reviewed.
- Submit materials. All applications must be submitted via Submittable. Please note that incomplete and late applications will not be reviewed. The deadline is 11:59 pm on Monday, May 1, 2023.
- Questions? Please direct questions to [email protected]
- In 2023, the Waterston Desert Writing Prize will recognize the winner with a $3,000 cash award,
- a residency at PLAYA at Summer Lake and a reading and reception at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon on September 14, 2023.