A Conversation with Perugia’s Intern

Alexis Crafts is completing a fall internship at Perugia Press, sponsored by the Westfield State University English Department’s Internship Program. English majors are required to complete an internship during their time at WSU, for which they receive course credit. This is the second semester Perugia has been able to offer an internship as a partnership between our press and Westfield State University. Jean Blakeman, Perugia Press board member, conducted an interview with Alexis about her experience as a Perugia intern and as a poet.

Alexis Crafts in Glen Ellis Falls, New Hampshire

Q: What first brought you to poetry?

A. Although I liked poetry growing up, it wasn’t until I took Creative Writing in my sophomore year of university that I fell in love with poetry. I enjoyed fiction writing, but I hadn’t had the chance to explore poetry in a meaningful way. After taking Creative Writing, I wanted to pursue poetry more.

Q: How did you first encounter Perugia Press?

A. I encountered Perugia Press through Westfield State’s English Department webpage. Jill Tully, a friend and past Perugia intern, uploaded a presentation about her internship experience at Perugia Press. I had been looking for grant writing opportunities and thought I could combine both of my interests during my internship with the press. I had also heard about the press when Lisbeth White came to Westfield State to read from American Sycamore

Q: What projects have you been involved with at the press?

A. During my internship, I generated poetry writing prompts for Instagram from Two Minutes of Light by Nancy K. Pearson and Lamb by Frannie Lindsay. I also served as a student reader for the Perugia Press Prize. Along with editing a video for the Readings & Roots series for L.I. Henley’s Starshine Road, I’ve identified potential grants the press could apply for.

Q: What are some things that stay with you from the Perugia books you’ve been working with?

A. I’ve noticed a dramatic improvement in my own poetry after reading Perugia’s books. It has been very inspiring. My professors and classmates have told me they’ve seen my poetry become more vivid. Being able to read dozens of collections for the contest provided an insider perspective on what publishing is like.

Q: Other than being Perugia’s intern, tell us a bit about yourself!

A. I’m a senior at Westfield State University studying English with a concentration in writing. I’m currently taking Advanced Poetry with the aim of creating a poetry chapbook, and I’ve immensely enjoyed the writing process and working with my classmates. I’d love to get the chapbook published in the future. I’m also co-editor-in-chief of Persona, Westfield State’s literary magazine, for the second year. After college, I plan to pursue a career in grant writing and development.

Alexis reading poetry at the Center for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (CURCA) conference at Westfield State University

Q: Do you have a favorite poet? Or a favorite poet of the moment?

A. It’s hard to choose a favorite poet, but I’ve been recently enjoying Megan Peak’s Girldom. Its themes of womanhood and coming-of-age through beautiful metaphors have stuck with me since I read her collection.

Q: How do you see poetry fitting into your life as you move forward?

A. Poetry will continue to fit into my life as I finish college and my chapbook. I’ll be wrapping up my time as a literary magazine editor, but I plan to keep writing poetry after college. I found a voice in poetry that I want to continue to let speak.

Editor’s note: It’s been such a pleasure to work with Alexis Crafts this fall a great match was made between Alexis, Westfield State University, and Perugia Press! Thanks to Jean Blakeman for conducting this interview, to the WSU English Department and Professor Michael Filas for facilitating the internship, and to Alexis for your diligent, creative, and thoughtful work this semester.