Press Release – Waterston Desert Writing Prize, December 2021

Monday, December 27, 2021
Contact: Heidi Hagemeier, director of communications, 541-382-4754 ext. 166,

Museum Announces Submission Opening Date for 2022 Waterston Desert Writing Prize

BEND, OR — The High Desert Museum will begin accepting submissions for the 2022 Waterston Desert Writing Prize on Saturday, January 1.

The ninth annual Prize honors literary nonfiction that illustrates artistic excellence, sensitivity to place, and desert literacy with the desert as both subject and setting. Early, mid-career and established writers are invited to apply.

The Prize award grew to $3,000 this year. The winner also will be featured in a reception and awards ceremony at the Museum in Bend, Oregon in September 2022.

Inspired by author and poet Ellen Waterston’s love of the High Desert, a region that has been her muse for more than 30 years, the Prize recognizes the vital role deserts play worldwide in the ecosystem and human narrative. In 2020, the High Desert Museum—which has long hosted events for the Prize—adopted the program.

“The literary arts provide such a dynamic way to explore the depth and complexity of deserts,” said Museum Executive Director Dana Whitelaw, Ph.D. “And since its inception, the Waterston Desert Writing Prize awards ceremony has been a favorite event at the Museum. We’re excited to hear from writers near and far again in 2022.”

The winner of the 2021 Waterston Desert Writing Prize was Ceal Klingler ( for “How We Live With Each Other.” Klingler’s submission addressed how animals, plants and other organisms have created livable places with each other at the hard edges of heat, cold, dehydration, floods and fires at the westernmost overlap of the Mojave and Great Basin deserts.

The 2021 finalists were Charles Hood ( for “Deserts After Dark” and Joe Wilkins for “Desert Reckoning” (

To learn more about the Waterston Desert Writing Prize and how to submit an entry, visit Submissions will be accepted through Sunday, May 1 at 11:59 pm.

The High Desert Museum is excited to also announce the return of the Waterston Student Essay Competition, open to young writers from Crook, Deschutes, Harney, Jefferson and Lake counties. It’s open to students in grades nine through 12, in public or private school, or home-schooled. Submission is free. Students may submit essays of 750 to 1,000 words of nonfiction prose to from January 1, 2022 through May 1, 2022. The submissions will be judged on originality, clarity of expression, accuracy, and their contribution to the understanding and appreciation of desert regions.

To learn more about the Waterston Student Essay Competition and how to submit an entry, visit


THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM opened in Bend, Oregon in 1982. It brings together wildlife, cultures, art, history and the natural world to convey the wonder of North America’s High Desert. The Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is a Smithsonian Affiliate, is the 2019 recipient of the Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence and is a 2021 recipient of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.