Ends on February 1, 2019


Enter the Waterman Fund Essay Contest by February 1

We invite emerging writers to submit personal essays between 2,000 and 3,000 words by February 1, 2019. The topic is…

Humor in the Wild

Maybe these scenarios sound familiar. You’re dripping sweat under that pack you've overloaded. You’re on an exposed ridge, the sky blackening, thunder rolling in. Your stove has malfunctioned. You’re forced to conclude you've gotten the whole party lost. Exhaustion, fear, stupidity: yet you’re surprised to find yourself laughing.

The mountain world can bring humor unexpectedly into our lives. Perhaps because the mere act of being in the mountains provides an antidote to the daily bombardment of the news cycle and the traumas of modern life. Perhaps because being in the mountains heightens all kinds of human experience. Perhaps because being in the mountains helps us to remember that life is full of the absurd and the unexpected. 

Does laughing, or just a bemused smile, bring us closer to wildness? Does humor bring us to the threshold of finding that mysterious something that often eludes us yet draws us into wild places? Is laughter a natural reaction to wildness—the wild within responding the wild outside? How and when does humor intersect with our experience of the wild?

Guy and Laura Waterman spent their lives exploring, living, and writing within the boundaries of culture and nature, and through our annual essay contest, the Waterman Fund seeks new voices on the role and place of wilderness in the modern world. 

This year we dedicate our contest to the memory of Hannah Taylor, a wilderness runner, Nordic ski coach, and the beloved sister of our essay contest coordinator and former winner, Bethany Taylor.

Essays will be accepted through February 1, 2019. The winning essayist will be awarded $1,500. The runner-up essayist will receive $500. Both will be published online and in Appalachia. Essay winners will be selected and announced by midsummer 2019.

For the purposes of this contest, an emerging writer is considered someone who has a solid writing background or interest but has not yet published a major work of prose on this topic or been featured in national publications. Send inquiries and submissions to essays@watermanfund.org. You may also submit essays through submittable.com.