The Story of My Book: Melody S. Gee

Published periodically, “The Story of My Book” posts bring our collections to life through a series of five questions we ask all of our poets that highlight what makes every book unique and why Perugia is the right home for each of them (and may be for you and your book too).

Melody S. Gee on Each Crumbling House (Perugia, 2010)

1. What was the genesis of your Perugia book?

Each Crumbling House was my first poetry collection, made up of about eleven years of poems written in college, grad school, and after. After I had published enough poems in journals to feel confident, I took about six months to collect them into a book, with feedback from other writers and readers. All I could see was how the poems were different, but readers could see themes and patterns, repeated images and words. They helped me space out poems that asked the same question and think about my book as a series of waves—how to sequence poems so they build and crest and recede.  

2. How did you find out about Perugia Press?

I submitted my manuscript everywhere I thought I might have a chance—contests, open submissions, anything. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t been so scattershot about it, but I was desperate for the book to find a home. Perugia’s focus and commitment to women poets made me feel like my writing might already have a home, and it made me much less worried that I was writing “too much” about mothers and daughters. Whereas you gauge your odds by the aesthetics of the guest judge in many contests, Perugia gave a very straightforward and grounded sense of what they were looking for.

3. Can you describe an experience that confirmed Perugia Press was a good fit for you?

I knew Perugia was a good fit from the process of revising the book with the editor at the time. I’d published enough in journals to have good and bad experiences with editors. What makes it work is someone who truly sees the work and me. I made some big revisions to the book, including the title, because I trusted the editor knew what the book wanted to be, should be, and could be.

4. How have you changed as a poet, writer, or creative person since your book came out?

Motherhood has changed my writing because it’s changed my emotional landscape. It’s also changed my creative time, capacity, attention, and vision. I see creativity in more places, like ingenious baby gear. And I see slow time and rest as part of creativity. I’m no longer interested in making my writing impressive, and I’m much more okay with longer stretches between publishing, as long as I’m working on something. It’s another way of saying I’m more okay with silence.

5. Other than poetry, what moves and motivates you? 

Writing memoir and fiction, writing about my conversion to Catholicism, wrestling with my faith. After many years of teaching, I’m a freelance writer now, so growing and improving my business is thrilling and motivating. In the ten plus years since publishing my book with Perugia, it feels like everything and nothing has changed. I’ve moved, changed jobs, had two kids, published two more books, chosen a faith, been laid off, found a new career. What makes it all matter is writing.

New chapbook from Driftwood Press


On a hike along the Ignatius Trail, White House Jesuit Retreat, 2020 (where many poems from the new chapbook were written)