'Literary Auntie' Janet Rogers to launch Indigenous publishing house with new poetry collection

After 25 years on the West Coast, Mohawk/Tuscarora poet Janet Rogers is back in Six Nations, Ont., and taking on a new venture in opening a publishing house.

'I recognized this great need for Indigenous publishers, to accommodate all the new voices'

Mohawk/Tuscarora writer Janet Rogers has returned to Six Nations after 25 years and will be opening a publishing house to support Indigenous writers. (Submitted by Janet Rogers)

Mohawk/Tuscarora poet Janet Rogers is back in her home territory of Six Nations, Ont., and is opening up her own publishing house.

After 25 years of living in Victoria, prior to the pandemic Rogers had been road tripping across the country, making her way back to southern Ontario.

"I knew when I would transplant myself, I was going to come back home," said Rogers. 

Rogers has published six collections of poetry and was Victoria's Poet Laureate from January 2012 until November 2014. She has also hosted radio programs and is a spoken word performer. 

Now she said she is beginning a new venture in Ojistoh Publishing.

Ojistoh is a Mohawk word that means "the white star" and is also the title of one of poet E. Pauline Johnson's pieces. 

Ojistoh is a Mohawk word that means the white star and is also the title of one of Pauline E. Johnstone’s pieces. (Submitted by Janet Rogers)

"I haven't been home in so long, what can I offer? And I know that I can offer the skills and experiences that have accumulated throughout my time on the road," she said. 

Since she began writing in 1996, Rogers said she's noticed an explosion of Indigenous literary voices. 

"I recognized this great need for Indigenous publishers, to accommodate all the new voices," said Rogers. 

She said that since being back in Six Nations she's been discovering that there is a growing group of diverse writings covering all genres from poetry, to historical novels, memoirs and horror within the community. 

"Currently, If you ask any Native writer who the Native publishers are in the country, they could name two or maybe three," Rogers said. 

Expanding role of a publisher

Rogers said the traditional role of a publisher has expanded over the years.

"Before it was like, we'll print a book, send out in the world and hope for the best," said Rogers. 

"But now there's all of these pockets of publishing that are quite new but also make the work accessible for more audiences." 

Rogers is going to be publishing her new poetry collection, Ego of a Nation, to introduce the publishing label. 

After the book is published, Rogers said she is going to figure out how she can support writers within the Six Nations community. 

Rogers said the publishing house is an opportunity for to support young Indigenous writers in a way that wasn't necessarily there for her when she began writing. 

"Being a literary auntie, I love it." 

Ego of a Nation is expected to be released by Ojistoh Publishing mid-May.