Support the Press
Dear Friends of Perugia Press:
Will this book make students fall in love? As a teacher of literature and writing at a community college, that’s the question I ask myself when deciding which books to use in my courses. While fat anthologies put out by big publishers have scope—John Donne on one page, the Belle of Amherst on another—they rarely make students fall in love. They are utilitarian at best.
Individual books of poetry have the potential to make us all—students, teachers, readers, writers—fall in love, and there are no finer poetry books being published today than Perugia’s. Each Perugia Press book is selected and made with care, from the judging and editing to the cover art and typeface. Then comes the job of getting the books to readers.
When my college’s English department adopted Diane Gilliam’s Kettle Bottom as a common book in our introduction to literature courses, I witnessed an entire college community falling in love with a book of poetry. The day of Diane’s visit, students, faculty, and staff filled the largest room on campus. Students were exposed to spell-binding poetry written by someone who breathes the same air they do. The excitement was palpable as Diane read.
Kettle Bottom’s success inspired me to teach other Perugia Press books: Two Minutes of Light, by Nancy K. Pearson; Red, by Melanie Braverman; The Disappearing Letters, by Carol Edelstein; and How to Live on Bread and Music, by Jennifer K. Sweeney. Several of these poets have come to campus, and each visit re-emphasizes to students that poets are not only alive but writing poetry about what matters today.
If literature has an Occupy movement it is this: Occupy the publishing conglomerates. Buy books from independent publishers. Support editors and writers who keep poetry vital. Treat yourself to exquisite writing and support living writers.
If you are a teacher, you make a difference. Show students that poetry is not just written by the long-dead and printed in over-sized anthologies that cost too much and weigh down their backpacks. Adopting a book written by a living poet and published by a small press supports the press and the writer in tangible ways and it shows students that poetry belongs to all of us.
May you, too, fall in love with a Perugia Press book today.
Professor of English
Mount Wachusett Community College