James Welch Prize

James Welch Prize: An award for indigenous poets
Art by Stella Nall

Poetry Northwest’s James Welch Prize is awarded for two outstanding poems, each written by an Indigenous U.S. poet. The prize is named for Blackfeet and Gros Ventre writer James Welch, whose early poems were featured in Poetry Northwest and who went on to become one of the region’s most important writers.

The 2024 James Welch Prize was open for submissions from December 15, 2023 to February 15, 2024. Check back next year for 2025 submissions.

About the Judge

Esther Belin (Diné) is among the myriad of indigenous peoples on the planet to survive in urbanized areas. She is a graduate from the following institutions: UC Berkeley, IAIA, Antioch University. She considers the following locations her homeland: LA, Durango, Diné bike’yah. Her writing and art grows from an is an offering to the collective humanity, bila’ ashdla’ii.

Esther is the author of two poetry books and coeditor of The Diné Reader: An Anthology of Navajo Literature. Belin’s visual art combines a variety of disciplines and works to reframe the mythical primitivism often associated with Indigenous cultures. She is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and lives on the Colorado side of the four corners. Belin is a member of Saad Bee Hózhǫ́:Diné Writers’ Collective, and teaches in the Native American and Indigenous Studies department at Fort Lewis College and in the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

About the Winners

The final judge selects two first-place winners. A small group of finalists is selected for print and/or online publication alongside the winner by writers and editors from our partner organizations and the editors of Poetry Northwest.

Both winning poets will be featured in a reading with the judge (2024 location TBA). This reading will include travel, lodging, and a very celebratory welcome for the winners.

Every entrant will receive a copy of Poetry Northwest featuring the prize-winning poems.

Previous Winners & Finalists

Thank You

The James Welch Prize is made possible by the generosity and participation of the following:



Including all who supported our successful 2021 Kickstarter campaign.

Adrienne Celt, Alex Higley, Alison Deming, Allison Morton, Amanda Powell, Andrea Gough, Andres Eduardo, Andrew Haley, Andrew Shattuck McBride, Anonymous, Annita Sawyer, Anya Backlund, April Christiansen, Arlynn Fishbaugh, Ashby and Amy Kinch, Betsy Teays, Bettye Walker, Bill Carty, Bojan Louis, Bookmonger, Brett Hall Jones & Louis B. Jones, Brittany Amborn, Bryce Emley, Camille Dungy, Carol Light, Caroline Barr, Cathlin Noonan, Charif Shanahan, Chelsea R Grimmer, Chris Dombrowski, Christian Gaines, Christina Montilla, Christopher Kondrich, Cin Salach, Clelia Castro-Malaspina, CommunityofWriters, Constance B. Wieneke, Corrie Williamson, Dan Hornsby, Danusha Lameris, David Gravender, Dean Rader, Deborrah Corr, Dylan B. Suagee, Elissa Washuta, Elizabeth Hubble, Ellen Welcker, Emily Darby, Erika Meitner, Erin Malone, Erin Melissa Curtis, Erin White, Gabriela Denise Frank, Gabrielle Bates, Garrett Hongo, Geffrey Davis, Greg Bem, Hannah Ensor, Heid Erdrich, Holly, Isla McKetta, J Morales, J. R. Lennon, Jacob Kuipers, Jane Sell, Jared, Jasmine Grewal, Jeanette Ashworth, jen soriano, Jennifer Foerster, Jennifer Perrine, Jenny, Jenny Graber, Jérémie Pinguet, Jerrold Bruno, Jessica Gigot, John Hoppenthaler, John Okrent, Jordan McNeil, Julie Elworth, Julie Felner, Justin Rigamonti, Kari Nielsen, Kasey Jueds, Katherine Sacco, Kathryn Hunt, Kathy and Mark Kuipers, Katie Farris, Keith McCoy, Kevin Craft & Carmen Zelaya, Kierstin Bridger, Kim, Kim Garretson, Kim Kent, Kim McKeehan, KT Herr, Lauren Haldeman, Lawrence Gullo, Leah Daugherty, Liezel M Hackett, Lily Frenette, Liz Fritsch, Lois Welch, lukepatterson1, Luther Hughes, lyrik, M. Ellsworth, Maggie Shipstead, Marc Mazique, Marci Cancio-Bello, Margot Atwell, Margot Kahn & Scott Case, Mark Rice, Mark Turcotte, Martha Silano, Mary Crauderueff, Mary Peelen, Matthew Kelsey, Meander Fiadhiglas, Meghan Dunn, Melissa, Meredith MacEachern, Michael Fox, Michael Heavener, Mishigosa, Moira Walsh, Molly Mendenhall, Morgan Wallace, Onyx, P. Scott Cunningham, Paisley Rekdal, Patrick Marx, Patrycja Sara, Paul Sarvasy, Rachael Lin Wheeler, Rachel, Rajiv Mohabir, Rebecca Kling, Richard P Fahey, RIchard Robbins, Risa Denenberg, Rob Atwood, Robert Baker, Ron Henry, Ron McFarland, Ruth Dickey, Ryan Teitman, Sandra Newman, Sara, Sarah Fritsch, Sharma Shields, Sharon Olds, Shelley Harlan, Sibelan, Skylar, Spencer Short, Susanna Childress Banner, Taylor Mali, Tess Taylor, The Creative Fund by BackerKit, Tom Carrigan, Tom Cordingley, Traci Brimhall, Trudy Skari, Valerie Wood, Vineet Kumar, Walker Bass, Wiley Brooks, Windflower Performance