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Ken Lamberton reading in Amherst, Massachusetts bookstore in 2007

Ken Lamberton (born November 8, 1958) is an American writer and former teacher. Born in Duluth, Minnesota, Lamberton attended the University of Arizona, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. He was working as a science teacher in Mesa, Arizona in 1985 when he was awarded a Teacher of the Year award. A few months later, the then 28-year-old Lamberton was arrested for child molestation for having an affair with a 14-year-old female student and transporting her across state lines. During his twelve-year prison term at the Tucson Federal Correctional Institution, he participated in a prison creative writing program run by Richard Shelton and became a writer, penning essays for the prison magazine La Roca.[1] After his release in 2000, he began to publish non-fiction books and articles on natural history and crime and punishment in the Southwest.[2]

Lamberton has published four books since 2000 and written hundreds of essays and articles. His first book, Wilderness and Razor Wire: A Naturalist's Observations from Prison, received critical acclaim from the San Francisco Chronicle which felt it was "....entirely original: an edgy, ferocious, subtly complex collection of essays...".[3] It won the 2002 John Burroughs Medal for nature writing. In 2007, Lamberton was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship by the Open Society Institute to complete his fourth book, Time of Grace: Thoughts on Nature, Family, and the Politics of Crime and Punishment.[4]

Among his other citations are an Eric Hoffer Notable Book Award for memoir, an Arizona Book Award Finalist for best nature–environment book, two "Notable Essays" mentions in The Best American Essays], two Pushcart Prize nominations, and a National Book Award nomination.

Lamberton is the managing editor of Walking Rain Review, a literary magazine of art, poetry, and prose created by the prison creative writing program of Richard Shelton.


  • Wilderness and Razor Wire: A Naturalist's Observations from Prison. Mercury House: San Francisco, California, 2000.
  • Beyond Desert Walls: Essays from Prison. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2005.
  • Time of Grace: Thoughts on Nature, Family and the Politics of Crime and Punishment. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2007.
  • Chiricahua Mountains: Bridging the Borders of Wildness. Photography by Jeff Garton. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2003.


  1. ^ Snell, Marilyn Berlin (2002-11-01). "Law and nature's order: how swallows and saguaros gave a prisoner his freedom". Sierra.  
  2. ^ Allen, Lee (2005-07-21). "Outdoor Reminiscences". Tucson Weekly. Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  3. ^ Slouka, Mark (2000-01-23). "Cell Biology". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2008-07-28.  
  4. ^ "2007 Soros Justice Fellows". Open Society Institute. Retrieved 2008-07-28.  

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