Rena Priest is a citizen of the Lhaq’temish [Lummi] Nation. She earned an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.
Priest is the author of Northwest Know-How: Beaches (Sasquatch Books, 2022); Sublime Subliminal (Floating Bridge Press, 2018); and Patriarchy Blues (Moonpath Press, 2017), which received an American Book Award.
Priest is the recipient of an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award, and fellowships from Indigenous Nations Poets and the Vadon Foundation.
Priest was appointed Washington state poet laureate in 2021 and is the 2022 Maxine Cushing Gray Distinguished Writing Fellow. She currently resides near her tribal community in Bellingham, Washington, where she was born and raised. In 2022, Priest received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.
In 2022, Rena Priest was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. In recognition of the fact that in the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation, salmon are sacred and celebrated in ceremony and song, central to the tribe’s Sche’le’ngen, or way of life, Priest will create a poetry anthology celebrating Washington state salmon runs and Washington poets. The anthology hopes to raise goodwill and a feeling of reverence for the salmon—a feeling that has guided the tribe’s long-standing stewardship over salmon habitats and harvest management to ensure their success as a species. Priest will work with the Washington Center for the Book and regional tribal organizations to offer workshops where new poems can be created, and the anthology will be publicized through a call for submissions. Priest will launch her fellowship project in collaboration with Humanities Washington.