The Waterston Desert Writing Prize

There are presently no open calls for submissions.

Waterston Desert Writing Prize

About the Award
The Waterston Desert Writing Prize (the Prize) was established in 2014, 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.

In 2024, the Prize will recognize the winner with a $3,000 cash award and a reading and reception at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon on September 26, 2024.  Following the review of submissions by the Waterston Desert Writing Prize Advisory Committee, the winner and finalists are selected by the guest judge.

In celebration of the Prize’s tenth anniversary, the 2024 guest judge will be actor and producer Sam Waterston, who funded the original endowment that launched the Prize. The ceremony’s keynote speaker will be Tucker Malarkey, a nationally bestselling author. Malarkey’s most recent book, Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon, chronicles one conservationist’s journey to save the world’s remaining wild salmon.

Submission Period
Tuesday, January 2, 2024, through Wednesday, May 1, 2024, at 11:59PM.

Who’s Eligible to Apply
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.

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize