Mallory Tater is the author of the poetry collection This Will Be Good (Book*Hug Press 2018) and a novel, The Birth Yard ( Harper Collins Canada 2020). She lives in Vancouver. She teaches creative writing at The University of Victoria and The University of British Columbia.
Curtis LeBlanc is a poet and fiction writer residing in Vancouver, BC. He is the author of Little Wild (Nightwood, 2018) and Birding in the Glass Age of Isolation (Nightwood, 2020). He is currently at work on his first novel and is represented by Akin Akinwumi at Willenfield Literary Agency.
Tell us a bit about your press. How did you start? Who are your influences, in Canada and beyond? What is your mission?
We started discussing the possibility of starting a chapbook press, when myself, Mallory and some of our friends were nearing completion on our MFAs and thinking about what we would do next to stay engaged with the community. There are and have been a number of exceptional chapbook presses in Canada and there were some newer outfits publishing extraordinary work, work we loved, especially out east – Anstruther Press and Metatron (a full-fledged publisher) always come to mind. We wanted to do something like that, and figured, why not give it a try? We wanted to publish work that excited us, voices that we felt people really needed to hear that maybe weren’t getting the attention we thought they deserved.
What about small press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
I think what was and is still really exciting for us is all the support we get from the poetry community across the country, and not just from people we know. People are excited about chapbooks and that makes us excited! Bookstores are really starting to embrace the chapbook. We started distributing books through Massy Books
here in Vancouver because we caught word that people were going in there and looking for our titles. That really made us feel welcomed into the larger literary community, despite publishing in a shorter/smaller format than traditional perfect bound books.
How does your press work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large?
We’re all poetry fans (who isn’t?) and so we’re constantly encountering new voices and work that is unique and captivating. With the press, we actually have a medium to promote that work and those artists. We’ve organized launches and events in the past, and before COVID our entire editorial board was very much engaged with the writing community in Vancouver and abroad to our best abilities. And of course, we do our best to promote our authors and get their work out there so that as many people as possible get to engage with their poetry.
Tell us about three of your publications. What makes them special, needed, and/or unique?
I’ll take this opportunity to mention our three most recent titles from Fall 2019. We published Pray For us Girls, a debut from Cara Nelissen, which lives in this beautiful space between lyric and prose poetry. We also had the privilege of putting out Mercy Tax by Rebecca Rustin from Montreal, a brilliant collection that flips effortlessly from the conversational to the profoundly metaphorical. We also published Plough Forward the Higgs Field by John Elizabeth Stinzi, an awesome confluence of farming life, particle physics and all that surprises in between, before they released Junebat (House of Anansi) and Vanishing Monuments (Arsenal) the following Spring.
How have the current multiple global crises impacted your work with the press?
We did take a season off from publishing in the Spring. We had our authors and titles lined up, but I think everyone involved had the larger context of the pandemic on their mind and we wanted to give our authors the chance to publish their titles when maybe that wasn’t the case. Everyone seemed on board and so that gave everyone a little extra time to breathe and take care of themselves. We’re digging into the production process now and are excited to release titles by Tin Lorica, Kai Conradi and Claire Kelly in the fall!
Plough Forward the Higgs Field
John Elizabeth Stintzi
Pray For Us Girls