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2020 Creative Writing Workshops

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize will offer three free creative writing workshops in conjunction with the 2020 awards event day on June 24. Each workshop is limited to 15 participants. Sign up will be available on the High Desert Museum website soon.

Location: High Desert Museum Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2020  Time: TBA

Workshop Leader: Dahr Jamail
Workshop Title: How to Be Versus What to Do During the Climate Crisis


Jamail will discuss not “what to do” during the climate crisis, but instead, “how to be.” Diving more deeply into the concluding chapter of his book, The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption, which focuses on questions which highlight the importance of being present, Jamail will discuss grieving rightly, and how to listen more intently to the Earth and our hearts. It is there we find the strength, fortitude and wisdom of how to be during these times. The workshop will be a short talk, followed by open group  discussion.

Workshop Leader: Robert Michael Pyle

Workshop Title: “Parsing the Particular”

In this workshop, you will explore Vladimir Nabokov’s idea of “the individuating detail,” and how specific details of the physical world can enliven all writing. Building on Nabokov reading Pyle's own poem, “The Swift,” you will sharpen our own ability to see, feel, gather, and then express details that can truly inform literature. Writing indoors and out, you will find  the particular in visions, sensations, and textures. Participants will create their own page-pictures to express an observed place from its particularities. Treating the actual world as a work of art, you will practice the act of wild and willful ekphrasis, and then dial it back to the simple detail that refuses to let us forget what we came here for.

Workshop Leader: Ellen Waterston

Workshop Title: “Lyric Desert”


Courage takes many forms, not the least of which is meeting the gaze of the blank page! What better genre to reckon and capture observed and personal instances of courage than the shape-shifting lyric essay? What better non-form to encourage rule-breaking as writers refine their voices and give in to the alchemy of the telling? Prompts and supplemental readings will guide in the recruitment and balance of poetry and prose, fiction and nonfiction, research and reminiscence.