Kathryn Rantala

Seattle-born Kathryn Rantala, Consulting Editor and Founder of Ravenna Press, returned from a period on the Columbia Plateau, the Inland Empire, Spokane, the vast and beautiful Palouse, to re-settle in Edmonds (ah!), birthplace of the press and her prior home for over thirty years.  A world traveler and avid collector, she has published poetry and prose for more than 40 years, beginning with Spring Rain, a venerable Seattle journal edited by Karen and John Sollid.

Samples of her writing (time has broken a few of the links—sorry) may be accessed below.  Her most recent book is A Little Family, Spuyten Suyvil Press, 2023, prose poems and short fictional narratives "like paintings in words--complex images, frozen in time--deep, beautiful, poetic."

She is also a visual artist, creating what she calls "stills", three-dimensional versions of her poetry.  Small works created from found items, they are similar to “assemblages” with an effort toward interaction with the viewer and mystery.

Displayed at the Frances Anderson Center in Edmonds February through March 2024 and featured in the November, 2019 Edmonds Art Walk, her work may be found in her three art books (see The Orphans of Thor Street) and in private collections from Edmonds to Maine.


Kathryn Rantala may be reached at editor@ravennapress.com.

Her books include:

The Dark Man

1974 (a chapbook) Longhouse Press, Seattle, reprinted in 2000, (email editor@ravennapress.com to purchase), described as

breathtakingly good, reminiscent of “Creeley’s Presences” but better.”

Missing Pieces

Ocean View Press, Denver, 1999.

Here, indeed, is the sound of silence" (Steve Sneyd); speaking in a forensic context for those who were never listened to in life, or in death.”

The Plant Waterer and other things in common

Now out of print, said by Deron Bauman to be

...a beautiful small book...doing concisely and poetically what Paul Metcalf and Gertrude Stein did with prose.”

Traveling With the Primates

A 'Selected Works By' collection, privately distributed, 2008, on which Norman Lock commented,

Rantala's elegiac, erudite, and highly particularized miscellany is a tribute to her passionate requirement that what passes for most unseen be paid close attention and memorialized in language.”

As If They Were a Basket

A limited-distribution chapbook, 2008

The chapbook presents a rather lyrical poem by the author who then purports to draw (and quixotically does) parallels to and commentary upon it, line by line, from naturalistic memoirs, diaries and scientific observations by writers in various fields, all properly annotated, each running concurrently and developing its own companionable sense.”

A Partial View Toward Nazareth

Stillwater Press, Albuquerque, 2010.

A phenomenal book…the genres of poetry and memoir and travel journal blend masterfully and the rhythms of the juxtapositions make the book one grand poem so full of surprising shifts -- The powerful lyrical imagery affects one on such a deeply personal level.”

The Finnish Orchestra

A personal collection, the poetry of perceived heritage.

In "The Finnish Orchestra," Rantala considers her own heritage as she knows it--spare of fact, filled with impression and effect.  Alternately lyrical, post-modern, runic, the pieces create an eclectic symphony of the individual, as unique as the orchestra in which her immigrant grandfather played in early 20th Century Astoria, Oregon.  One remains estranged from, yet immersed in this family and their near-Arctic land of marshes, wolves and auroras.  The vintage B&W photos characterize them and their environs, supporting and ultimately merging atmosphere with the poetry itself.   "Arch of dark, the sun, low in love, as used as smooth as sauna, dim for the weary, for the dead, their eyes of coal; travelers reddened by steamed joy. Night lets itself in. A foot wrong here is the Arctic...."

Scenes From Her Life

Distance in the Palouse is stark and soft. The reach goes farther and farther from the eye; nothing new in it but the wind. It could be that those old silt dunes stretch so far that they outpace the soul. When she would stand in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest, the wet reflections always turned her inward. Here, in these vast rolling fields, a part of herself wanders out of sight. She hopes to retrieve it before the snow.” ­—from A Partial View Toward Nazareth

Fish Trap, Washington

stones navigating space for stones

a time tattoo in no particular order

an accidental bird drives memorized and where it rests a cloud

the desert floods sidelong

sudden in all ways

everything that is

the rocks even where there are none

rush to rid themselves of us.