Waterston Desert Writing Prize

Waterston Desert Writing Prize

The mission of the Waterston Desert Writing Prize is 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 prize.

The High Desert Museum is proud to adopt the prize beginning in 2021!

Renowned author and poet Ellen Waterston started the fledgling Waterston Desert Writing Prize in 2014. Through six years of growth, the High Desert Museum has been a strong partner to the organization, promoting the Prize and hosting the annual awards ceremony and reception. On September 17, 2020, Ellen Waterston announced another huge step for the Waterston Desert Writing Prize, its official adoption by the High Desert Museum.

The mission of the High Desert Museum’s Waterston Desert Writing Prize is 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 prize.

Submissions are being accepting now by the High Desert Museum. Emerging, mid-career and established nonfiction writers are invited to apply. The Prize honors literary nonfiction that illustrates artistic excellence, sensitivity to place and desert literacy with the desert as both subject and setting. Inspired by Ellen Waterston’s love of the High Desert of Central Oregon, 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.

2020 Winner Hannah Hindley

Hannah Hindley’s winning submission, Thin Blue Dream, proposes a collection of interconnected stories that explore the Sonoran Desert’s disappearing waterways, the fish that used to call them home, and the successes and complications that come with efforts to help restore depleted tributaries with city effluent. “It’s a strange story of ghost rivers, dead fish and resilience in the heart of urban spaces in the desert,” states Hindley.

Currently completing her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Arizona, Hindley is also a wilderness guide, licensed captain, environmental curriculum designer and naturalist. Her work as a naturalist has taken her to remote wildernesses, from the arid islands in the Sea of Cortez and the fog desert of Baja California, to national parks all over the west. She has written for publications including the Harvard Review, Hakai Magazine, Terrain, River Teeth and Alaska Magazine. Hindley has been the writer in residence at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. She is the recipient of the Thomas Wood Award in Journalism, the New Conrads Prize, the Bill Waller Award for Nonfiction, and the Katharine Bakeless Nason Scholarship for the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Workshop. Hindley graduated from Harvard with degrees in English and in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.