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.

About Our Judge

Heid E. Erdrich grew up in Wahpeton North Dakota and is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain. Her poetry collection Little Big Bully won a National Poetry Series award for 2020. Heid’s awards include a 2022 Bobbit Prize, a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowship, and she has twice won a Minnesota Book Award for poetry. Heid edited the 2018 anthology New Poets of Native Nations from Graywolf Press and teaches in the low-residency MFA Creative Writing Program of Augsburg University. Heid served as the 2019 Distinguished Visiting Professor in Liberal Arts at University of Minnesota Morris, the 2021 Glasgow Writer-in-Residence at  Washington and Lee, the 2022 Elliston Writer-in-Residence for University of Cincinnati, and she recently taught a term in Native American and Indigenous Studies at Dartmouth College.

Photograph of Heid Erdrich

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 (2023 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