About the Press

Perugia Press, founded in 1997, is a nonprofit press that publishes one beautifully designed book each year: the winner of the Perugia Press Prize, our annual national contest for first or second books of poetry by women. Our mission is to support and promote women’s voices in print, and we aim to expand the audience for poetry by making books that welcome longtime readers of poetry and those new to poetry. We celebrate and promote our poets, and poetry, whenever we can, through social media, and at local, regional, and national book fairs, readings, and events. We also maintain resources for educators who would like to incorporate our books into their curricula. Read our 2022 Annual Report here.

At Perugia Press, we are doing our part to tip the scales of gender inequity in poetry into balance. Our books have won many acclaimed post-publication prizes, including the James Laughlin Award/Academy of American Poets, the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award, the PEN Center USA Award, and the Publishing Triangle Audre Lorde Poetry Prize, among others.

Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

77%
men

23%
women

Nobel Prize in Literature (Poetry Category)

88%
men

12%
women

National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry

62%
men

38%
women

Poets Laureate of the United States

73%
men

27%
women

“Perugia Press has been quietly building an extraordinary list of poets and publishing them in beautiful books. The future of American poetry literally depends on this kind of dedication and effort.”

Chase Twichell

Perugia Press & Its Poets: On the Power of Women’s Voices & Poetry

This documentary short by filmmaker Kate Way captures conversations with our poets and editors and scenes from our twentieth anniversary reading and writing workshops at Smith College.

Board of Directors

Rebecca Olander

Editor and Director

Rebecca Olander took the helm at Perugia Press in 2016 after serving as a longtime reader, judge, and board member. She also teaches writing at Amherst College and Westfield State University and works with poets in the Maslow Family Graduate Program at Wilkes University. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has published a chapbook, Dressing the Wounds (dgp, 2019), and a full-length collection, Uncertain Acrobats (CavanKerry, 2021), a MA Book Award finalist. To learn more about her work, visit: rebeccahartolander.com.

Susan Kan

Founder and President

Susan Kan is the founder and former director of Perugia Press. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. Now, she enjoys creative projects and volunteering with the Center for New Americans, the Welcome Home Refugee Resettlement program, and Happier Valley Comedy Theater.

Jean Blakeman

Jean Blakeman is a poet and editor. Her poems have appeared in Silkworm, Compass Roads, and 56 Days of August. She was a longtime board member of Center for New Americans, an adult education center supporting the immigrant, refugee, and migrant communities in Western MA, where she served in officer roles and on the advisory committee for its annual “30 Poems in November!” literary fundraiser. In addition to poetry, her interests include knitting, swimming, and baseball.

Amy Dryansky

Amy Dryansky’s second poetry collection, Grass Whistle (Salmon Poetry), received the MA Book Award. Her first book, How I Got Lost So Close to Home, won the New England/New York Award from Alice James Books. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has received fellowships/honors from the MA Cultural Council, MacDowell Colony, and Bread Loaf. She teaches creative writing and works as a grant writer for a conservation organization. To learn more about her work, visit: amydryansky.com.

Jen Jabaily-Blackburn

Jen Jabaily-Blackburn’s first book of poems, Girl in a Bear Suit, was selected by Christopher Citro as winner of the 2023 Elixir Press Annual Poetry Prize and will be released in April 2024. Her recent work has appeared in or is coming soon from SIR, Arkansas International, Palette Poetry, Salamander, Fugue, Banshee, On the Seawall and Couplet Poetry, and her poems have twice been selected for Best New Poets. She is at work on a series of mixed-media blackout poems, hem, drawn from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Originally from the Boston area, she now lives in Western Massachusetts with her family. In 2024, she joined the board of Perugia Press, and she is an associate editor of Nine Syllables Press, housed at Smith College, where she is the Program & Outreach coordinator for the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center. More at jenjabailyblackburn.com.

Shanta Lee

Shanta Lee is a writer of poetry, creative nonfiction, and journalism, and a visual artist and public intellectual actively participating in the cultural discourse with work that has been widely featured. Shanta Lee is the author of the poetry collection GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues, winner of the 2020 Diode Press book prize and the 2021 Vermont Book Award. Her latest illustrated poetry collection, Black Metamorphoses (Etruscan Press, 2023), was named a finalist in the 2021 Hudson prize, shortlisted for the 2021 Cowles Poetry Book Prize, and longlisted for the 2021 Idaho Poetry Prize. Dark Goddess: An Exploration of the Sacred Feminine, her latest exhibition featuring her short film, interviews, photography, and more has been on view at the University of Vermont’s Fleming Museum of Art. To learn more about her work, visit: shantalee.com.

Arya Samuelson

Arya Samuelson is a writer and editor living in Northampton, MA. She is the winner of CutBank’s Montana Prize in Non-Fiction awarded by Cheryl Strayed, and her writing has also appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Columbia Journal, New Delta Review, The Millions, and elsewhere. She teaches writing workshops with Pioneer Valley Writers Workshop, Writers in Progress, LitReactor, Elephant Rock, and through her own writing platform, Writing as Ritual. She holds an MFA from Mills College in Prose and works professionally as a grant writer for social change organizations. To learn more about her work, visit: aryasamuelson.com.

Yasotha Sriharan

Yasotha Sriharan is a poet and professor in the Pioneer Valley. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Papua New Guinea and England before immigrating to the U.S. She writes about the countries of her childhood. She teaches at Springfield Technical Community College and has taught at Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Springfield College, and other colleges in the area.


Lynne Thompson

Poet Liaison to the Board

Lynne Thompson’s Beg No Pardon won the Perugia Press Prize in 2007 and the Great Lakes Colleges New Writers Award in 2008. She’s also the author of Start With A Small Guitar (2013) and Fretwork (2019), winner of the Marsh Hawk Poetry Prize. Her next book, Blue on a Blue Palette, will be out with BOA Editions in 2024. Among other awards, Thompson received an Individual Artist Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles, the Tucson Literary Festival Poetry Prize, served as the LA Poet Laureate in 2021-2022, and was a Poet Laureate Fellow of the Academy of American Poets. Thompson serves on the boards of Cave Canem and the Los Angeles Review of Books. To learn more about her work, visit: lynnethompson.us.

Community Partnerships