Waterston – Rebecca Lawton

Waterston Desert Writing Prize

Rebecca Lawton – 2015 Prize Winner

Rebecca Lawton’s winning project and proposed book, titled “The Oasis This Time,” will focus on California fan palm oases and their role as barometers of the effects of falling groundwater levels in communities around the American West. Her proposal was selected for its quality of writing and meaningful contribution to the body of desert literature. Lawton, who lives in Sonoma, California will return to the U.C. Irvine Steele-Burn and Research Station in the Anza Borrego Desert, California to continue her research. 

Lawton is the Executive Director of PLAYA, an artists and scientists residency program in Summer Lake, Oregon. She is an author, instructor, and fluvial geologist whose work explores wild and human nature. An early woman guide on Western whitewater, Rebecca rowed the Colorado in Grand Canyon and other wilderness rivers for fourteen seasons. Her work as a scientist has focused on ancient and modern ephemeral streams, the movement of sediment, and water turbidity levels that affect fish growth and survival.

Her writing honors have included a 2014 Fulbright Visiting Research Chair Award, a 2014 WILLA Award for original softcover fiction, the 2006 Ellen Meloy Fund Award for Desert Writers, residencies at Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers and The Island Institute, and nominations for three Pushcart Prizes (fiction, nonfiction, and poetry). She has published articles and stories in Aeon, Orion, The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Shenandoah, Sierra, and many other journals. Rebecca is the author of seven books and four stage plays.