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The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2016

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2016

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize (the Prize) is accepting submissions for the 2016 prize. Submission guidelines for 2016 are listed below. Now in its second year, the Prize annually honors literary nonfiction that illustrates artistic excellence, sensitivity to place, and desert literacy – with the desert as both subject and setting.

Inspired by author and poet 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. Emerging, mid-career and established nonfiction writers are invited to apply. Previous submitters who have not won an award are eligible to apply with a new project.


Any topic related to the vital roles deserts play worldwide in the ecosystem


The Writing Ranch


In 2016, the Prize will recognize one writer with a $1,500 cash award, a reading and reception at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, and a four-week residency at PLAYA at Summer Lake, Oregon.


April 1, 2016


Proposals can be submitted beginning January 1, 2016 and ending April 1, 2016. Use the online application link.

Only those applicants whose submissions follow the guidelines correctly will be eligible for review.  Further, applicants should submit only the specified materials. Any extra materials included with the proposal, and not requested in these guidelines, will not be reviewed.

Step 1. Fill out the application form.

Step 2. Upload ONE Word or Acrobat file.
Combine the three parts of the application into ONE document and DO NOT place your name or other identifying information on any page of the document.

  1. Biographical Statement (no more than one page)
    Provide a brief narrative (not a resume or vita) summarizing your educational and professional background, writing experience and publication history. DO NOT disclose your identity in this information. Submissions with resumes or vitaes will be rejected. Please also answer these questions:
  • Where did you hear about the Prize?
  • Why are you interested in working in the desert?
  • How will a Waterston Desert Writing Prize award benefit your work?
  • Describe your desert experience(s).
  • Demonstrate a commitment to making a meaningful contribution to the body of desert literature.
  1. Proposal Title and Description (no more than one page)
    Please note that neither the particular desert region to be visited nor the length of time to be spent there are specified by the Prize. Budget information is not required in the description. Any desert region in the world is applicable to this award.
  • Proposal Title
  • Describe your writing project
  • Where, in the desert, will you go to research your project?
  • What is your plan for field work?
  • How do you plan to sustain the project to completion as a book?

Please explain specifically how the project will:

  • Add new perspectives and make a meaningful contribution to the body of desert literature
  • Advance desert literacy
  1. Writing Sample (no more than 10 pages)

You may submit published, unpublished, or work in progress. The work must be that for which you have sole artistic ownership and responsibility.

Since the Prize considers only literary nonfiction proposals for the award, it is best to submit a sample of the same. Writing samples that are in other genres such as poetry, fiction or juvenile literature will only weaken your chances of selection and are discouraged.

Application Submission Deadline: April 1, 2016. Incomplete and late applications will not be reviewed. The award will be announced in June.

Award recipients are asked to agree to the following:

  • At the time the award is accepted, the recipient will submit a photograph and grant permission for information submitted in the proposal to be used for publicity purposes.
  • Award recipient must grant permission for the Prize to publicize the award.
  • Award recipient must be open to visits and/or interviews by the Prize board and staff.
  • Accepting the Waterston Desert Writing Prize award obliges the recipient to provide a brief project evaluation by the end of the year of the award.
  • Award recipient will be asked to acknowledge the Prize in any publications generated from the award project; language will be provided.
  • While not required, the Prize appreciates receiving a sample of the writing generated as part of the project to post on the Writing Ranch website.


For all inquiries, contact (541) 480-3933, or


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About Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin

Writer. Difference Maker. Entrepreneur. Author, Your Right To Write & Vertical Writing. Winner, 11 Writing Prizes.

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