PERUGIA PRESS began in 1997 as a publishing experiment with Gail Thomas’s beautiful poems about loss and survivorship. Once the poems were collected and bound in Finding the Bear, press founder Susan Kan saw the powerful impact of making books.
Before long, Perugia Press became a nonprofit organization with IRS 501(c)(3) tax exemption status, and launched a national competition for first or second books of poetry by women. Now named the Perugia Press Prize, the popular, annual contest is proving that excellence comes this way: one book at a time. In 2016, Perugia Press welcomed a new director, Rebecca Olander, who continues to build on the strong foundation established under Susan Kan’s direction.
Several of our books have gone on to win acclaimed post-publication prizes:
- How to Live on Bread and Music, by Jennifer K. Sweeney won The James Laughlin Award from The Academy of American Poets.
- The Wishing Tomb, by Amanda Auchter won the PEN Center USA Award.
- Two Minutes of Light, by Nancy K. Pearson won the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award.
- Begin Empty-Handed, by Gail Martin won the Housatonic Book Award from Western Connecticut State University.
- Beg No Pardon, by Lynne Thompson won the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award.
- Kettle Bottom, by Diane Gilliam Fisher won the Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing.
- Red, by Melanie Braverman won the Publishing Triangle Audre Lorde Poetry Prize.
And when confronted with the statistics about gender inequality in publishing, it’s clear we have work to do. Some people believe the reason for discrepancies between men and women is that men are simply writing better books. At Perugia Press, we are convinced otherwise and are doing our part to tip the scales into balance.
- Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: 73% male winners, 27% female winners
- Nobel Prize in Literature (Poetry category): 91% male winners, 8% female winners
- National Book Critics Circle Award: 65% male winners, 35% female winners
- Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award: 60% male winners, 40% female winners
- Poets Laureate of the United States: 76% men, 24% women
We produce beautiful books, lovely to hold, to look at, as well as to read. Our goal is to reach as large an audience as possible, selecting poetry that is welcoming to new readers as well as interesting to longtime readers.
Thank you for your interest in Perugia Press.