Brilliance, Spilling

Featuring Perugia’s First Twenty Poets

Commemorating its twentieth anniversary and the move forward into its third decade, this chapbook features a poem from each of Perugia Press’s first twenty books, chosen by the poets and curated by Founder/Former Director Susan Kan and Editor/Director Rebecca Olander. Brilliance, Spilling celebrates the depth and breadth of Perugia Press’s offerings and brims with intelligence, humor, and pathos. Cover painting is “June nights, I slip in and out of the moon,” by Scout Cuomo. The title is from “Custodian” in Perugia’s first book Finding the Bear, by Gail Thomas:


for William Zimmerman

The man who loved flowers
walked every morning to
PS 128 where he mopped
vomit from the lunchroom,
scrubbed toilets and
collared boys who spit
in water fountains.
He was proud of the shine
on the gym floor,
his honest work.

At home in the narrow yard
he knelt to fertilize
tired city dirt,
coaxing bulbs that would
give themselves
to sooty air in masses
of brilliance, spilling
over the wire fence.
Under the moon
he walked with his wife,
breathing a litany
of iris, rose,
gloriosa daisy, bleeding heart.
Later, when his legs
and eyes stopped working,
when she shrank and shook,
the house was sold.
From the fifth floor
of a high-rise he dreamed
of fringed petals,
slow openings, yellow pollen
dusting his fingertips.
When he woke, he lifted
her pale limbs, changed
urine sheets and bathed
the soft folds of her body
in rose water.

Cover image: Brilliance, Spilling
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“In this moving, celebratory selection of poems from its twenty prize-winning books chosen annually, Perugia Press earns its motto: ‘Excellence comes this way: one book at a time.’ From the rising waters of New Orleans to the mineshafts of Appalachia, through memories of rural America or a lost ancestral China, these poems are wonderfully various in subject and locale, idiosyncratic in voice and style. What they share is passion matched by craft, the authority of the genuine, vivid figures of thought and desire, and a home at a press dedicated to discovering the best new poetry by women.” —Eleanor Wilner
“In the last few decades, the publishing of poetry has gone through a seismic shift. Although big commercial houses still publish a few volumes, it’s small presses like Perugia Press that are doing the essential work of scouting out the best new poetry and bringing it into the world. For twenty years Perugia Press has been quietly building an extraordinary list of poets and publishing them in beautiful books. The future of American poetry literally depends on this kind of dedication and effort. Kudos to Perugia Press for its brave and tireless work, and to its poets for theirs.” —Chase Twichell

Editor/Director Rebecca Olander at AWP

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