Interview with Mallory Tater, Publisher
How did Rahila’s Ghost Press start?
My husband Curtis LeBlanc and I are both writers and we always had a dream to start a poetry chapbook press full of a chosen family editorial board publishing great work. He and I travelled to Saskatchewan in March of 2016. He was researching his novel in Wilcox and I was researching my Romanian ancestry in Dysart. Through family history anthologies, I got really attached to Rahila Corches, my great-great-grandmother. She came to Canada with her husband and children in 1900. She died when she was twenty-six years old from unknown causes. In the St. George Romanian Orthodox Cemetery in Dysart, SK, her death is recorded in the parish registry as “extraordinary.” Her body isn’t in the cemetery despite claims to the contrary on all the cemetery records I researched. It isn’t there. I wanted to honour her and my ancestral routes with creation.
During our road trip, we got caught in a lot of snowstorms and began to chat more seriously about starting a press. From there, we held a fundraiser within our literary community in Vancouver, got wonderful editors to join us in our goals and started to find voices we wanted to publish. Our first titles were released Fall 2017 and now we have a total of 12 published titles, soon to be 15. It has been a wonderful experience so far and has opened us up to a lot of new friendships, creative work and community building.
Tell us a bit about Rahila’s Ghost. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
We are a Vancouver-based press on unceded Musqueam, Sḵwxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh land with the goal of publishing limited-edition poetry chapbooks by emerging and established writers. When we started up we felt that, while there wasn’t a complete void of chapbook presses in Vancouver, there was a lot of room for a new press to come in and publish some of the wonderful voices that we knew needed a home or a platform both here and beyond. We aim to produce fine books of the very best contemporary writing. Each season’s new titles features the cover artwork of a visual artist or illustrator. We strongly encourage women, writers of colour, LGBTQ writers, Indigenous writers, and writers with disabilities to submit.
Can you give us a preview of what’s current and/or forthcoming from your catalog, as well as what you’re hoping to publish in the future?
We’ve just published Kind of Animal on feminism and concussion awareness by Kyla Jamieson edited by Shaun Robinson, I Am Still Too Much, on queerness, family and Indigeneity by Brandi Bird edited by Selina Boan, and Carp Dime, prose poems on humour and the materialism of youth by Emma Tilley, edited by Curtis LeBlanc. Actor and photographer, Kathryn Prescott, provided us photography for the covers. Books are on sale on our big cartel shop or in Vancouver at Massy Books.
We are soon publishing chapbooks by Rebecca Rustin edited by Adèle Barclay, John Elizabeth Stintzi edited by Dominique Bernier-Cormier, and Cara Nelisson edited by Shaun Robinson with cover design by Kate Balfour.
We used to ask, “What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?” We’re still interested in the answer to that, but we’re even more interested to know what you think needs to change.
An increase in funding opportunities for small presses would be good because paying our writers, editors and designers for their labour matters a lot to us. We currently rely on the passion and enthusiasm of our editors and can only offer small honourariums to writers and cover designers to keep afloat.