We’re back at it again; interviewing our publisher partners for a deep dive into their careers, ambitions for their publications, and more.
This week, it’s the turn of Rima Rantisi, editor of Rusted Radishes: Beirut Literary and Art Journal.
Housed in the American University of Beirut, Rusted Radishes has established itself as a space for emerging and established writers and artists with a connection to Lebanon and the Arab world. Beirut’s revolving door of influences and cultures, its history, and its perch on the Mediterranean, is certainly at the heart of a unique convergence of voices. Each issue features diverse, rare and previously unpublished work.
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Now it’s time to hear from Rima — take it away!
1) What’s your role within Rusted Radishes?
I am the editor of the journal and manage a team of senior editors and interns.
2) What’s the best thing about working at Rusted Radishes?
Working with a great team of artists, both established and emerging. When we put our heads into a publication, we are able to bring out the best of what we know, discover, and hold in esteem in terms of literature and art from the MENA region. And this is a tie with meeting and connecting with so many great writers and artists. In the end, we are a growing community.
3) What impact has the pandemic had on your publication, both short-term and long-term?
The pandemic hasn’t been our main issue, as Lebanon has been suffering an economic meltdown and recently an explosion that destroyed half of the capital. The pandemic exacerbated the issues, mainly economic in nature. However, we were able to publish a great issue this year, Health and Illness, despite the pandemic, the economic meltdown, and the severe aftermath of the explosion.
4) What was your most unusual lockdown hobby?
Hmmm, I wasn’t that interesting during the lockdown. I got into nurturing my plants, and I worked a lot… and worked extra on keeping sane. Maybe the latter was unusual.
5) How have you found the experience of remote working over the past year?
I have personally liked it because even though we have always known we could, it is now second hand to have a virtual meetings with people near and far (for example, I met Exact Editions during lockdown!). It saves time and gives us a broader connection. But there is no doubt that we cannot stay solely in the shallow space of the screen for too long. We need face time, touch, voices that don’t blip out if you talk over each other, as is often natural in a conversation.
6) Where are you most looking forward to travelling to, once restrictions allow?
As soon as the restrictions were lifted, I traveled to the U.S., where I am from, and where my parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews live. We are lucky in Lebanon to have many scenic places to travel to, both in the mountainside and seaside. My family and friends often went to nature, as many people did for release.
7) What is your vision for Rusted Radishes in 10 years’ time?
I hope that Rusted Radishes will grow some arms in different directions and become a physical hub for writers, translators, and artists. It is currently a space where we teach, learn, and publish. I’d like to see the team and the community meeting physically on a daily basis and creating as much as possible. I think we have a lot more work to do.
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Thanks so much for your time Rima — it was brilliant to hear from you.
If you have any questions or comments about the Publisher 1-On-1 feature, please get in touch with one of the Exact Editions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.