Desert Word Walk

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Hello, and welcome to Desert Word Walk! My name is Ruth Nolan. I am a poet, writer, and professor of English at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, and I’m also editor of Heyday’s exciting anthology of California’s desert literature, No Place for a Puritan: The Literature of California’s Deserts, published in November, 2009. I was born in San Bernardino in 1962, and am a second-generation Californian. Since 1976, I have lived, hiked, explored, fought fires, and even sailed and canoed throughout the compelling, sparsely-inhabited southeastern corner of our state.

To my excitement, I have discovered, while researching and compiling No Place for a Puritan—under the wise and dedicated tutelage of Malcolm Margolin and Gayle Wattawa, who were with me every step of the way—that my homeland is not only rich in breadth and beauty, danger and allure, but is also a literary goldmine
overflowing with riches. Who would have known that John Steinbeck wrote about a spiritual catharsis he experienced in the Mojave? Pedro Font, the priest accompanying the De Anza Expedition of 1775-76 through the desert kept a
journal of his experiences. Cesar E. Chavez delivered a famous speech at Coachella in 1973, and Joan Didion dedicated a large part of the setting of Play It As It Lays to a remote town halfway between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Desert Word Walk will bring you along on some of my journeys in the Mojave and California’s other deserts, in the literal and literary sense, and introduce you, in the process, to some of the finest writers and writing our state’s deserts offer. You will be introduced to works penned by an astonishing representation of accomplished and emerging writers; read historical accounts and culturally-significant stories of the desert’s Native Americans; and enjoy poetry, fiction, journal entries, news accounts, biographical sketches, environmental writing, and more. Hopefully, you’ll be surprised at the depth and scope of the places and corresponding literary gems I’ll share with you as I take you along on my desert journeys and introduce you to some of my favorite desert places, writers and writing.

And now, it’s time to lace up your hiking boots, fill your water bottles, and pack your imagination as you join me on the desert journey of a lifetime!

From the Desert Word Walker….Ruth Nolan


  1. Cyrus Emerson says

    Hi Ruth,

    This is a great endeavor and you have the knowledge and ability to facilitate it.

    I’ll be looking forward to reading more on this blog.

    All the best,