Perugia Press Poet Wins the Gift of Freedom Award

Diane GilliamPhoto by Deborah Boardman

Diane Gilliam
Photo by Deborah Boardman

Diane Gilliam, whose second book, Kettle Bottom, was published by Massachusetts’s Perugia Press, has won the Gift of Freedom Award from A Room of Her Own Foundation. The $50,000  award is the largest of its kind for women writers.

Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s famous edict, that a woman must have a space of her own and money to write, A Room of Her Own Foundation “commissions a creative project by a promising woman writer/artist ready to restructure their life in order to complete their work within the two year period of the grant.”  The website  A Room of Her Own  describes the Gift of Freedom Award as “actual, practical help for women who need to do their work in a world that often doesn’t know how much it needs that work, and as a sacred trust that heartens us, binds us to our work and to each other.”

Gilliam’s proposed grant project, a book of poetry entitled The Blackbirds Too, will focus on “identity accomplished by breakage of the structures a person might depend on to become someone:  work, knowledge, marriage, family, goodness.”

Perugia Press, publisher of Gilliam’s Kettle Bottom, is based out of Florence, MA. Perugia publishes one collection of poetry a year, from a woman at the beginning of her publishing career. Since its publication from Perugia, Kettle Bottom—a collection of poems that focuses on the lives of West Virginia miners in 1920—has won several prizes and garnered many accolades, including a Pushcart Prize. You can read more about Perugia in our series of stories on Massachusetts presses.

Gilliam received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Ohio State University, and holds an MFA from Warren Wilson. She currently lives in Columbus, Ohio.

Read an excerpt of Kettle Bottom from Perugia.