Enter Essay Contest

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 experiences.  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 to the wild outside?  How and when does humor intersect with out experience of the wild?

At the Waterman Fund, we believe that the silence and adventure found in wild places remain vital to human society, even as the world beyond the trailhead becomes freshly fraught. For the 2019 essay contest, the Waterman Fund invites emerging writers to submit personal essays between 2000 and 3000 words.

Essays will be accepted through February 2, 2019. The winning essay will be awarded $1,500. The runner-up essay will receive $500. Both will be published in online and in Appalachia. Essay winners will be selected and announced by mid-summer 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. We welcome all inquiries at essays@watermanfund.org.