Museum opens submissions for prize


Last updated 1/5/2022 at Noon

The High Desert Museum is accepting submissions for the 2022 Waterston Desert Writing Prize.

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 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” (

For more information about the Waterston Desert Writing Prize and how to submit an entry, visit ww.high

ston-prize. Submissions will be accepted through Sunday, May 1 at 11:59 p.m.

The High Desert Museum also announced the return of the Waterston Student Essay Competition, open to young writers from Crook, Deschutes, Harney, Jefferson, and Lake counties in grades 9-12, in public or private school, or homeschooled. Submission is free. Students may submit essays of 750 to 1,000 words of nonfiction prose to waterston from January 1 through May 1. The submissions will be judged on originality, clarity of expression, accuracy, and their contribution to the understanding and appreciation of desert regions.

For more information about the Waterston Student Essay Competition visit


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