News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

AZ writer wins Waterston Desert Writing Prize

Hannah Hindley of Tucson, Arizona, is the winner of the 2020 Waterston Desert Writing Prize.

Guest judge, noted author Robert Michael Pyle, and the Waterston Desert Writing Prize Board of Directors made the selection last month.

Eli Beck, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Leath Tonino, Ferrisburgh,Vermont were Prize finalists. The winner of the Prize’s inaugural student desert writing contest is Al Lehto, a senior at Redmond Proficiency Academy.

Winners and finalists will be honored and offer readings at the annual reception and awards ceremonies at the High Desert Museum, currently scheduled for Thursday, September 10, at 6 p.m.

The event was rescheduled from June due to COVID-19-related constraints.

The event will also feature “A Desert Conversation” addressing this year’s theme of “Climate Change in the Desert.” Featured panelists include Robert Michael Pyle, author of 30 books, including “Wintergreen,” which won the John Burroughs Medal for distinguished nature writing, his first novel, “Magdalena Mountain,” and “Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide,” which has been adapted to a movie titled “The Dark Divide.”

Also on the panel, environmental writer Dahr Jamail is the author of “The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption.” Jamail is a recipient of numerous honors, including the Martha Gellhorn Award for Journalism for his work in Iraq and a 2018 Izzy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Independent Media for his reporting on the Climate Crisis. A third panel member is pending. Free creative writing workshops led by the panelists precede the evening’s events.

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,” Hindley stated

Currently completing her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Arizona, Hindley is also a wilderness guide and naturalist. She will be presented with a $2,500 cash award and a residency at PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon, at the Prize’s sixth annual award event.

Now in its sixth year, the Waterston Desert Writing Prize awards will again be held at the High Desert Museum.

Dana Whitelaw, Executive Director of the Museum, will co-host the evening with Ellen Waterston, President of the Waterston Desert Writing Prize.

The Prize honors creative nonfiction that illustrates artistic excellence, sensitivity to place, and desert literacy, with the desert as both subject and setting.

The Prize recognizes the vital role deserts play worldwide in the ecosystem and the human narrative.

For more information about the Waterston Desert Writing Prize, visit , email [email protected] or call 541-480-3933.


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