News / Awards & Prizes

Milkweed Editions Announces Regional Poetry Prize Expansion and 2019 Judge

Milkweed Staff — 12/06/2018

Back row L to R: Mary Austin Speaker, Milkweed art director; Jordan Bascom, Milkweed publicist; Rick Barot, 2018 judge; Daniel Slager, Milkweed publisher & CEO; Karla Vehrs, Ballard Spahr partner; Thomas Lovett, Ballard Spahr partner. Middle row L to R: Previous winners Jennifer Willoughby, Caitlin Bailey, Claire Wahmanholm, Chris Santiago, Patricia Kirpatrick. Front row L to R: Meagan Bachmayer, Milkweed development director; Abby Travis, Milkweed editor; Joanna Demkiewicz, Milkweed marketing director.


Milkweed Editions is pleased to announce that the Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, the largest regional poetry prize in the country, will continue under a new name, the Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry. The prize will also offer expanded eligibility, adding Michigan to the list of eligible states of residence for entrants in the upper Midwest. The 2019 judge will be acclaimed poet, essayist, and literary translator, Khaled Mattawa.

“Ballard Spahr is proud to continue the Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry,” said Pete Michaud, Managing Partner of Ballard Spahr’s Minneapolis office. “Recognizing the unifying power of language while also celebrating the unique voice of the Midwest is a fitting way to commemorate Lindquist’s merger with Ballard Spahr.”

“This meaningful prize recognizes artistic excellence and rewards poets publicly and lucratively, and we are grateful for the vision and commitment of the Ballard Spahr Foundation to carry this prize forward in partnership with Milkweed,” said Daniel Slager, Publisher & CEO of Milkweed Editions.

Expanding on the Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry, which was established in 2011, the Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry supports outstanding poets from the upper Midwest and brings their work to a national stage. The prize awards $10,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions to a poet at any stage in their career residing in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, or Michigan. Selected from a small number of finalists by an independent judge, the prizewinning poet will also receive a standard royalty contract, national distribution, and a comprehensive marketing and publicity campaign.


2018 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry winner Claire Wahmanholm signs books for Ballard Spahr partners Karla Vehrs and Thomas Lovett.

Previous winners of the prize will continue to be lifted up alongside future recipients under the prize’s new name. They are:

2018: Claire Wahmanholm for Wilder
2017: Caitlin Bailey for Solve for Desire
2016: Chris Santiago for Tula
2015: Jennifer Willoughby for Beautiful Zero
2014: Michael Bazzett for You Must Remember This
2013: Rebecca Dunham for Glass Armonica
2012: Patricia Kirkpatrick for Odessa

The annual award is the most generous regional poetry prize in the country, and is one of four Milkweed Editions Prizes. Others include the $10,000 Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, the most lucrative first book poetry prize in the country, made possible by the Alan B. Slifka Foundation and its president, Riva Ariella Ritvo-Slifka; the $2,000 Jake Adam York Prize, offered in partnership by Copper Nickel and Milkweed Editions; and the $10,000 National Poetry Series, for which Milkweed is one of five participating publishers.

Submissions to the 2019 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry will be accepted between January 3 and February 15, 2019. A small group of finalists will be announced in April 2019 and will be invited to read at Milkweed’s annual National Poetry Month Party in Minneapolis. The winner of the prize, selected by Khaled Mattawa, will be announced in May 2019, and their book will be published in late 2019. More information about the Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry, including submissions and more about the previous recipients, can be found at





Khaled Mattawa is a poet, essayist, and translator. His collections of poetry include Tocqueville, Amorisco, Zodiac of Echoes, and Ismailia Eclipse. He is also the author two critical works, Mahmoud Darwish: The Poet’s Art and His Nation and How Long Have You Been with Us: Essays on Poetry. Mattawa has co-edited two anthologies of Arab American literature, and has translated ten volumes of contemporary Arab poetry by Adonis, Saadi Youssef, and Iman Mersal, among others. The recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including an Academy of American Poets Fellowship Prize, the PEN-American Center award for poetry translation, a Guggenheim fellowship, an NEA translation grant, and a MacArthur Fellowship, Mattawa is an elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. He teaches in the graduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and is the editor of the Michigan Quarterly Review.



Milkweed Editions is one of the nation’s leading independent publishers of poetry, nonfiction, and fiction. We believe that literature has the potential to change the way we see the world, and that bringing new voices to essential conversations is the clearest path to ensuring a vibrant, diverse, and empowered future. Read our story»



The Ballard Spahr Foundation was established by the national law firm of Ballard Spahr, LLP, and is a donor-advised fund of The Minneapolis Foundation.