A letter from Perugia poet
Jennifer K. Sweeney,
during National Poetry Month
Dear Reader,
It is my pleasure to speak to you, as one of the proud Perugia Press poets.
When I first heard of Perugia Press, I was surprised that it is one of the only presses that focuses solely on poetry by women. In 2010 and again in 2011, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts counted rates of publication for women and men in the most prominent literary magazines. The eye-opening findings showcase the discrepancy—often only 25% women—and tell us that we are not given equal representation. I feel this inequity and passionately relay that Perugia’s mission to publish women at the beginning of their writing careers is relevant and vital. 
Adrienne Rich said, “When a woman tells the truth, she is creating the possibility for more truth around her.” In this spirit, Perugia Press extends the power of poetry in widening circles. I am honored to be among the sixteen inspired, intelligent, and varied female voices introduced into American poetics by Perugia Press.
The job of polishing my own manuscript in its final stages involved a thorough and intimate dialogue with editor, Susan Kan. It was during this last shared space of envisioning the work as a whole that I felt the poems become a book. In How to Live on Bread and Music, there are a number of “how-to” poems, and if I were to write directives on how to support a poet’s book, I’d say: Cast the lines cleanly against the horizon. Listen how the flock breathes in the questions. Let bones shine in their paper bindings. See. See again the way darkness is a net through which light falls. This is the meticulous and present way Perugia engages with poets. 
Since my book came out in 2009, I continue to be part of Perugia Press by helping with the collaborative judging process. Again this year, everyone ached at the task of choosing one book. Some of the most memorable poetry I read this year was among the manuscript submissions for the Perugia Press Prize.  If only Perugia could publish more books! Books like Ida Stewart’s Gloss, which parallels the erosion of language with mountaintop removal mining, or the upcoming book, The Wishing Tomb, by Amanda Auchter, which speaks for and through the city of New Orleans creating a portrait of landscape, history, and humanity.
I invite you to add some new Perugia books to your library and consider making a contribution to a press whose inclusive vision locates the pulse of the new woman poet, one book at a time.
Jennifer K. Sweeney, How to Live on Bread and Music
Winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets
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