A Conversation with Perugia’s Intern
Adrie Rose is completing a summer internship at Perugia Press, sponsored by the Praxis Program at Smith College. Jean Blakeman, Perugia Press board member, conducted an interview with Adrie about her experience as a Perugia intern and as a poet.
Q: What first brought you to poetry?
A: I was lucky to both fall in love with poetry and have opportunities to learn about it from a young age. In sixth grade, a classmate’s mother taught a class about poetry, and singled out a poem I wrote. She encouraged me to apply as a creative writer to a new public arts school that was opening in our county the next year (in Charleston, SC). I spent a couple of years there, then went on to a residential arts high school for the whole state. Poetry has been the way I understand the world for almost as long as I remember.
Q: How did you first encounter Perugia Press?
A: I first encountered Perugia Press when I picked up a copy of Kettle Bottom at a bookstore in Amherst, MA. It has remained one of my favorite collections. I’m currently an Ada Comstock Scholar at Smith College, doing a concentration in poetry. When I asked Matt Donovan, the head of the Poetry Center, about local internships, he connected me with Perugia, and here I am!
Q: What have you been involved with so far at the press?
A: I’ve been creating teaching guides for many of the poetry collections from Perugia. These are offered for free as part of Perugia’s new website, and include a sample poem, discussion questions, and writing prompts connected with each book. These guides could be used by teachers, professors, or even book clubs who want to delve deeper into these beautiful books.
Q: What are some things that stay with you from the books you’ve been working with?
A: It was an honor to get to work with a book like Kettle Bottom, that I’ve loved and admired for so long. I’ve also been exposed to so many new books. Something that stays with me is the way connection to land and place influences many poets. It comes out in the work in many different ways, but it is often a tangible presence.
Q: Other than being Perugia’s intern, tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I am a Smith student finishing my bachelor’s degree. I’m majoring in American Studies with a concentration in poetry. I am passionately involved in the climate and racial justice movement, including co-leading a lunch series on campus last spring about ending racism and the climate emergency. I am the mother of two young people—an 8-year-old and a 13-year-old. I also work as a folk herbalist—I love plants almost as much as I love people and poetry.
Q: Perugia’s work centers on highlighting the work of women writers. Do you see a connection between the mission of the press and that of Smith College, where you are a student?
A: I absolutely see a connection between the missions of Perugia and Smith! Both are working to close gender gaps and lift up women’s voices.
Q: How do you see poetry fitting into your life as you move forward?
A: I’ve been working hard these past five years to bring poetry back into the center of my life. I have two more years at Smith, and after that my plan is to pursue my MFA. This summer, I’m attending the Tupelo poetry manuscript conference, to work on polishing a chapbook I have, and then I’ll be sending it out for publication.
Editor’s note: It’s been such a pleasure to work with Adrie this summer as our first-ever intern. We don’t usually have the need or capacity for an intern at Perugia, but with COVID-19 necessitating internships be conducted remotely this summer for Smith, and with the launching of our new website and joining Instagram—both projects Adrie has been invaluable for—the stars aligned between Smith, Adrie, and Perugia! Thanks to Jean for conducting this interview, to Smith for funding the internship through Praxis, to Matt Donovan for sending Adrie our way, and to Adrie for your thoughtful, intelligent work this summer.