Waterston – Nathaniel Brodie

Waterston Desert Writing Prize

Nathaniel Brodie – 2019 Prize Winner, 2015 Finalist

2019 – Nathaniel Brodie’s submission, “Borderlands,” is an essay to be included in a literary nonfiction travelogue that will explore the tensions between rigid man-made borders and ever-changing borders in the natural transition zones of the biologically and culturally diverse landscapes known as the Sky Islands or Madrean Archipelago. “Borderlands” will weave together the stories of the Apache Wars, the current migrant crises, rewilding schemes, the Rosemonte Copper Mine, and the threatened freedom of movement of endangered species such as jaguar, ocelot, and Sonoran pronghorn.

2015 – Finalist Nathaniel Brodie’s submission, “Entangled in the Land,” told the story of the seven years he spent working on the Grand Canyon National Park Service Trail Crew. On one level this story is about his search as a young man for intimacy and belonging, in both place and in romantic love, with all the accompanying tensions of wilderness and domesticity, wanderlust and rootedness, freedom and responsibility. A story of the man he was, the man the Canyon helped him become. But this narrative of coming to know myself is inextricably entangled with the quest of coming to know the Grand Canyon—the Canyon is the true protagonist of this book, and I delve deeply into its natural and cultural histories, present(s), and possible futures.

Nathaniel Brodie is an author, journalist, and public lands employee. He received a BA from The Evergreen State College and an MFA in Nonfiction Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. His essays have appeared in magazines, literary journals, and book anthologies, and his articles in a weekly alternative newspaper. I was the recipient of the PEN Northwest 2014 Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency, and a finalist for the Ellen Meloy Desert Fund and, in 2015, the Waterston Desert Writing Prize. He is the editor of a book of essays about an old-growth forest in the Pacific Northwest, and the author of a memoir about living and working in the desert. He has worked as a Peace Corps volunteer, backcountry stone mason, wilderness ranger, beekeeper, framer, farmer, snow science technician, and troutslayer. Brodie has explored the Atacama, Namib, Kalahari, Thar, and Mohave deserts, and has an abiding interest in and passion for exploring, knowing, and protecting desert places.