Perugia Roe v. Wade Response

Dear Perugia Press Community,

As a press that supports the creative work of women and uplifts women’s voices, we are reeling from the recent Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and strip a constitutional right from Americans. We stand with you, in rage, in resistance, and with respect. 

When I took over as director, it was November of 2016. We celebrated our 20th anniversary that month and concluded our annual contest against the backdrop of the election of Donald Trump. That election was experienced as an assault on women collectively, as well as against people of color, queer folks, Muslims, veterans, and those with disabilities (not a complete list, and of course intersectionality means Black women, for one example, were impacted even more by such assault). Those who are already marginalized by society were violated, mocked, disrespected, feared, and misunderstood by the person our country had just voted into power to the highest office in the land. We realized that an existential threat was Trump’s ability to place on the Supreme Court justices who would be in a position to overturn Roe v. Wade.That nightmare has come to pass, and it has us terrified anew at what rights and protections could be undermined next. 

I just wanted to share that what got me through those early dark days in our country that fall, before the pink pussy hats and activism that swelled the following January, was celebrating the legacy of Perugia Press with its poets and community, and being bolstered by the manuscripts that were submitted by our deadline of November 15 that year. In their various, creative, strong, beautiful, and unique expressions, those manuscripts felt like positive actions against despair and like votes for the worth and dignity of all women’s voices. 

We’ve all been through so much in the almost six years that have passed since that November. What hasn’t changed is our commitment to publishing and promoting emerging women poets. So as you decide what your responses will be to this latest blow to liberty and equality – maybe you’ll march, donate to Planned Parenthood or an abortion fund in a state with restrictive laws,  write a protest poem, or tell your own abortion story – please consider submitting to Perugia Press when we open our 2023 Perugia Press Prize contest. Submissions of first and second full-length collections by women-identified poets will be open August 1 – November 15. And if you don’t fall into that category but want to support Perugia, we are always open to donations that help us to continue our work. We already know YOUR work and heart will be part of how we retain hope and engagement in this country we share. 

In solidarity and dissent,

Rebecca Olander, Editor/Director