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The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024 | $3000 Cash Prize

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024 is currently open for submission. The prize was established in 2014, inspired by author and poet Ellen Waterst

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024 is currently open for submission. The prize was established in 2014, inspired by author and poet Ellen Waterston’s love of the High Desert, a region that has been her muse for more than 40 years. The Prize provides financial and other support to writers whose work reflects a similar connection to the desert, recognizing the vital role deserts play worldwide in the ecosystem and the human narrative.

The recipient of this year's prize will be awarded $3000 cash prize and a reading and reception at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon on September 26, 2024. 

Eligibility Criteria For The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024 

Nonfiction writers who illustrate artistic excellence, sensitivity to place and desert literacy with the desert as both subject and setting. The award supports literary nonfiction writers who are completing, proposing, or considering the creation of a book-length manuscript. It is recommended the writing sample submitted is part of the proposed project or closely represents it in content and style.

Submission Guidelines For The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024

Step 1. Fill out the online application form (link active after January 2nd, 2024) on Submittable. This form is the only location identifying information (your name, address, email) should appear.

​Step 2. Upload ONE Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF file. Combine the three parts of the application described below into one document and do not place your name or other identifying information on any page of the document.

Biographical Statement: 

  • One double-spaced page in 12-point type and one-inch margins. Do not disclose your identity in this information. A resumé or curriculum vitae will not be accepted. Provide a brief narrative that summarizes:
  • Your educational, professional, publication, and writing experience
  • How the Waterston Desert Writing Prize award will benefit your work
  • Your commitment to making a meaningful contribution to the body of desert literature
  • Proposal Title and Description: No more than one double-spaced page in 12-point type and one-inch margins. The description should include:
  • Proposal title
  • Brief description of the project
  • Desert locations included in the project’s research 
  • Brief description of how the project will contribute to desert literature and expand knowledge of the deserts
NOTE: A budget is not required

Writing Sample: No more than 10 double-spaced pages in 12-point type and one-inch margins.

 Please keep in mind:

  • Writing samples that are in other genres such as poetry, fiction or juvenile literature will be disqualified. 
  • Writing samples can be published material or unpublished drafts. 
  • You must be the sole author and have full ownership of the work.
  • Any extra materials included with the proposal, and not requested in these guidelines, will not be reviewed.

Step 3. Submit materials. All applications must be submitted via Submittable. Please note that incomplete and late applications will not be reviewed. 


The deadline is 11:59 pm on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

The award recipient is asked to agree to the following: 

  • With travel assistance from the High Desert Museum, the award recipient should make every effort to attend the award ceremony and reception. The ceremony will occur on Thursday, September 26th, 2024, in Bend, Oregon.
  • At the time the award is announced, the recipient will submit a high-resolution photograph to be used for publicity purposes.
  • Award recipient must grant permission for the Museum to publicize the award and winner
  • Award recipient will acknowledge the Prize and High Desert Museum in any publications generated because of the award; language will be provided to the award winner by the High Desert Museum. 
  • The Prize appreciates receiving a sample of writing generated as part of the project to post on the Waterston Desert Writing Prize and/or High Desert Museum website.
  • Twelve months following the awarding of the Waterston Desert Writing Prize, the winner will provide the Museum a one-page report detailing how the award supported their work, project-related tasks accomplished during the year, news of publication plans, and a sample of the writing produced.

  1. Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships 2024 | $27,000
  2. Academy of American Poets' James Laughlin Award 2024 | $5,000 Cash Prize and Sponsored Residency
  3. Academy of American Poets' Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize 2024 | $25,000 Cash Prize
  4. Drue Heinz Literature Prize 2024 | $15,000 Cash Prize and Publication 
  5. ABA Journal / Ross Writing Contest for Legal Short Fiction 2024 | $5,000 Cash Prize
  6. The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024 | $3000 Cash Prize 
  7. 2024 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Prize | $12,500
  8. The Iowa Poetry Prize 2024
  9. 2024 Oversound Chapbook Prize | $1000 and 50 Copies
  10. Poetry International Prize 2024 | $1000 Cash Prize 



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Pawners Paper: The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024 | $3000 Cash Prize
The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024 | $3000 Cash Prize
The Waterston Desert Writing Prize 2024 is currently open for submission. The prize was established in 2014, inspired by author and poet Ellen Waterst
Pawners Paper
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