Patrick Mondaca Wins Fourth Annual Waterston Desert Writing Prize

Two finalists also recognized for proposed desert literature projects

Patrick Mondaca is the 2018 winner of the fourth annual Waterston Desert Writing Prize. His submission, Adjustment Disorder, was chosen by the judges for its quality of writing, unique perspective and meaningful contribution to the body of desert literature. Mondaca will be honored at a reception and reading at the High Desert Museum in Bend on Wednesday, June 27 at 6pm. The evening will also include “A Desert Conversation” with moderator Adam Davis, and panelists Charles Goodrich, Becca Lawton, Dr. Jay Stratton Noller, and Richard Wilhelm. The event is free and open to the public, and reservations are required. Reserve here with the High Desert Museum.

Mondaca will receive a $2,000 cash award and a four-week artist’s residency at PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon. His project proposal is a memoir about the discovery of personal peace in a Sudanese desert landscape by a combat veteran. The memoir seeks to bring attention to the concept of the “draw” or pull of the desert in the postwar lives of military veterans. The cash award will help to support Mondaca’s return to Morocco for work on the subject. Mondaca served in Baghdad, Iraq with the U.S. Army and as a security advisor for a humanitarian organization in South Darfur, Sudan. He earned an MS in Global Affairs from New York University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Currently he is a researcher, writer, and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Mondaca’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail, USA Today, The Hill, and U.S. News & World Report, among others.

Underscoring the quality of submissions, two applicants were named finalists: Kathryn Wilder, Dolores, Colorado, for “These Seasons of Disappointment: Cows in the Desert,” and Diana Woodcock, Midlothian, Virginia, for “The Gobi Desert and Its Muslim Inhabitants.” The finalists are invited to attend the June 27th reception, be honored and offer a brief reading. The Prize judges reviewed nearly 70 submissions from writers across the United States as well as Armenia, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, India, Serbia and United Arab Emirates.

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize was established to honor creative and literary nonfiction that illustrates artistic excellence, sensitivity to place, and desert literacy, with the desert as 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 Waterston Desert Writing Prize recognizes the vital role deserts play worldwide in the ecosystem and the human narrative.

The prize is funded from an endowment managed by the Oregon Community Foundation, with the impetus for the creation of the endowment provided by actor Sam Waterston, after whom the prize is named. As the endowment for the prize grows, so will the annual prize amount. Tax deductible donations to the Waterston Desert Writing Prize can be mailed to PO Box 640, Bend, Oregon 97709.

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