Ruth Nolan
Ruth Nolan

Ruth Nolan, M.A, a lifelong resident of the California desert and southern California's Inland Empire, is professor of creative writing and desert literature at College of the Desert in Palm Desert. She is also editor of the critically-acclaimed regional literary anthology, No Place for a Puritan: the literature of California's deserts, published by Heyday Books, Berkeley, in 2009. A former helicopter hotshot firefighter for the Bureau of Land Mangement's California Desert, District, she is also a poet/writer, photographer, lecturer and visual arts and film collaborator whose desert-based poetry, articles and photographs focusing on California desert culture, arts, literature and conservation are widely published. She is featured scholar/author in the 2010-11 California Legacy “Nature Dreaming” radio project, sponsored by the California Council for the Humanities and Santa Clara University, and part of an artist-planner collaboration, the Riverside County Art VULUPS project, 2010-11, which won the California Planning Association Award in 2011. She was also a featured scholar/lecturer at the 2011 Green Festival, speaking on desert environmental issues related to federal renewable energy development in the Mojave Desert, and was a featured author/speaker at the Western Wilderness Conference at University of California, Berkeley in 2010. She collaborated, as a writer, to the film "Escape to Reality: 24 hrs @ 24 fps," based in Joshua Tree National Park, which was produced by the University of California, Riverside / California Museum of Photography in 2008. She contributes desert conservation and culture articles on regularly to the the award-winning Desert Star Alternative News Weekly, and writes a guest blog, "Desert Word Walk, for Heyday Books, as well as editing a Phantom Seed: a magazine of California desert writing, which she founded in 2008. Her poetry has recently appeared in The Night Goes On All Night: Noir Inspired poems (2012); New California Writers, 2011 (Heyday); Inlandia: A Literary Journal (Spring, 2011); and Inlandia: A Literary Journey through Southern California’s Inland Empire (2006.) She was the recipient of a Joshua Tree National Park Affiliate Writers Residency for 2008-09; has twice been awarded a Vermont Studio Writers Fellowship, in 2006 and 2004; and received, in 2004, a major award from the Two Year College English Association of the National Council of Teachers of English: Outstanding Programs in English Award for Two-Year Colleges and Teachers for a poetry/expository writing program she designed for community college writing instruction. She is also the co-founder/facilitator of the Inlandia Institute Writers Workshop in Riverside, CA since 2008, and edits the workshop's literary magazine, Slouching Towards Mt. Rubidoux Manor.


LOCATION: Palm Desert, California


WHAT INSPIRES ME: the most remote, tucked-away of the California desert, where myth and geography merge, time and culture, shapeshift continuously....

FAVORITE PLACE TO GET AWAY IN MY AREA: Pushwalla Palms Oasis, Coachella Valley Preserve (a former Indian village site)

FAVORITE WRITERS: Rimbaud, Hunter S. Thompson, Anais Nin, Bukowski, Desert Indian Storytellers and Singers, Leslie Marmon Silko, Pable Neruda...and many more


MOST OVER-HYPED ARTIST: Andy Warhol (but that's the whole idea, isn't it?)

PERFECT SOUNDTRACK FOR WRITING: Pink Floyd, "Dark Side of the Moon," or Chopin, Etudes

WHY I LOVE WHERE I LIVE: For the panoramic pillars of light and sky and stars in a true shadow desert, and for the daring, invent-as-you-go, Dionysian way of life embodied here.

ART YOU MAKE (IF YOU MAKE ANY...): desert photography, poetry, and experimental short film & interviews, all by using the wonders of my iPhone 4.

Recent Articles
Exploring Native American Indian Culture and Arts at Coachella Valley Archaeology Symposium
Exploring Native American Indian Culture and Arts at Coachella Valley Archaeology Symposium
The Coachella Valley Archaeology Society Symposium is an annual event that celebrates Native American cultural and artistic expression.
MilTree: Healing Military Veterans Through the Arts
MilTree: Healing Military Veterans Through the Arts
MilTree, a new and quickly growing arts-based outreach organization based in the Morongo Basin, aims to show a display of support for veterans of wars who live in the high desert area.
Riot Grrrl Lives! Meet the Cool Moms and Ladyfest
Riot Grrrl Lives! Meet the Cool Moms and Ladyfest
The feminist, self-empowerment, punk rock arts scene of riot grrrl lives on, now symbolically grafted onto the mother-heart and soul of the onetime desert region of Riverside, California.
Images of The Salton Sea: California's Lost Riviera in Three Cinematic Adventures
Images of The Salton Sea: California's Lost Riviera in Three Cinematic Adventures
Several recent cinematic works reveal an astonishing depth of riches in the stories of the people whose lives are staked out along the Salton Sea.
Living on the Dime: A Cultural History of the I-10 Freeway
Living on the Dime: A Cultural History of the I-10 Freeway
In 2003, Antonio Gonzalez Vasquez started Living On the Dime: A View of the World from Along the I-10 environmental and cultural research oral history project to study the effects of the I-10 freeway on Southern California communities.
Mystical Mojave Wild Kingdom Circus Extravaganza
Mystical Mojave Wild Kingdom Circus Extravaganza
At dusk, local performers and participants will emerge from beneath the shadows of thick Joshua Trees to converge and celebrate the wild, wonderful world of a grassroots, locally-created, regionally-inclusive, do-it-yourself collaborative arts and sustainability event.
Salt Songs to Break Your Heart
Salt Songs to Break Your Heart
On a bright day in Twentynine Palms, Chemehuevi Indian Salt Song singer Matthew Leivas invoked the memory of native people who came before.
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