The Editors just saw this tasty bit of literary history in the making. John O'Brien, founder and editor in chief of world-renowned leftfield literary press the Dalkey Archive Press, has published his first prose-poem! Titled 'Employment', the work runs with an unusually playful and aggressive tone, deploying a well-known corporate formal structure to deconstruct rising unemployment rates in recession-hit Western economies. It is also, we believe, a covertly ingenious approach to the unremittingly boring tradition of calls for submissions.
We reproduce the piece in full here, assuming it to be published under a creative commons licence. However, you may wish to read it at source, to verify whether we have taken it out of context.
Dalkey Archive Press has begun the process of succession from the founder and current publisher, John O'Brien, to a publishing house that will be directed by two-three people along with support staff. With the recent decision to expand our London office and make London the base of European operations, the Press seeks to develop its staff there. Who will take on leadership positions at the Press over the next few years will be the result of this transitional process. The pool of candidates for positions will be primarily derived from unpaid interns in the first phase of this process, although one or two people may be appointed with short-term paid contracts.
The Press is looking for promising candidates with an appropriate background who: have already demonstrated a strong interest in literary publishing; are very well read in literature in general and Dalkey Archive books in particular; are highly motivated and ambitious; are determined to have a career in publishing and will sacrifice to make that career happen; are willing to start off at a low-level salary and work their way upwards; possess multi-dimensional skills that will be applied to work at the Press; look forward to undergoing a rigorous and challenging probationary period either as an intern or employee; want to work at Dalkey Archive Press doing whatever is required of them to make the Press succeed; do not have any other commitments (personal or professional) that will interfere with their work at the Press (family obligations, writing, involvement with other organizations, degrees to be finished, holidays to be taken, weddings to attend in Rio, etc.); know how to act and behave in a professional office environment with high standards of performance; and who have a commitment to excellence that can be demonstrated on a day-to-day basis. DO NOT APPLY IF ALL OF THE ABOVE DOES NOT DESCRIBE YOU.
We certainly seek people with relevant experience, but just as important or more so, we seek people who know what a job is, are able to learn quickly, are dedicated to doing excellent work, can meet all deadlines, and happily take on whatever needs to be done. Attitude and work habits, along with various skills, are just as important as experience and knowledge.
Any of the following will be grounds for immediate dismissal during the probationary period: coming in late or leaving early without prior permission; being unavailable at night or on the weekends; failing to meet any goals; giving unsolicited advice about how to run things; taking personal phone calls during work hours; gossiping; misusing company property, including surfing the internet while at work; submission of poorly written materials; creating an atmosphere of complaint or argument; failing to respond to emails in a timely way; not showing an interest in other aspects of publishing beyond editorial; making repeated mistakes; violating company policies. DO NOT APPLY if you have a work history containing any of the above.
The areas of work for which the Press seeks candidates are the following, perhaps in the order of importance, but with all initially being equal to one another, and in the order that have the most promise for long-term employment:
1. Personal Assistant to the Publisher, part of which will be to learn how to raise funds for the Press, travel with the Publisher to other countries when necessary, meet all key authors the Press publishes, learn the history of the Press and its culture, work closely with all of those the Publisher must work with, be a liaison between the Publisher and other staff, know what the Publisher needs or wants before he does; in brief, do whatever the publisher needs done so that he can concentrate on major projects that this person will also be involved in; this is best suited for a younger person who wants to learn publishing directly from a founder;
2. Development/fundraising: maintain a fundraising/grant-writing schedule/calendar; write all grants and make solicitations from individuals; develop an annual fundraising plan; travel to meet funders;
3. Office Manager: keeping of financial records and ensuring all bills are paid in a timely manner; coordination of intern staff; generating weekly cash flow statements; ensuring timely responses to all website requests; day-to-day assignments from Director as assigned; doing all and everything that will make work for others easier;
4. Production/layout/design: manage all aspects of the production schedule, ensuring pub dates are held firm; layout of all Dalkey Archive books; work with printers; create promotional materials; work closely with designers and may also do design work;
5. Editor: assist publisher with contracts and acquisitions; generate reader reports; copy-edit; proofread;
6. Publicist: arrange for reviews/publicity and plan events for Dalkey Archive books and authors;
7. Marketing Manager: liaise with the Press's distributor, WW Norton & Co.; work with the Press’s publicist to ensure publicity increases sales; develop marketing plans;
8. Web Manager: maintain the Press’s website and update content as needed.
By the end of--or even sooner--of the internship/trial period, both the candidate and the Publisher should know that the Press needs the person and would be making a major mistake not to maintain the person for the future.
Applications will be ongoing, and internships/positions will be filled when and if the right people are found. Candidates should assume a start date of mid-to-late January, depending upon which position is being applied for. Early applications are encouraged so that you will not be disappointed a position has already been filled.
To apply, send the following to John O’Brien, firstname.lastname@example.org : a letter explaining the basis of interest in the position, why you want to work at Dalkey Archive Press, why you're qualified, and why we would be foolish--in light of your knowledge, skills, and experience--not to want you to be an important part of the Press. Also attach a current CV including three references and their contact details. Assume that you will begin to be evaluated as soon as your application arrives. And also assume that you will be one of the unpaid interns until you are ready to take on all the responsibilities of a position. Incomplete applications will not be considered.
We will not be able to acknowledge receipt of applications or provide feedback about your application. We will contact only those people whom we wish to ask further questions of or that we intend to interview. Do not contact us about your application.
Candidates from EU countries are encouraged, but if English is not your first language, you must have a very high level of both verbal and written skills.
Perhaps the language does become a little monotone about halfway through. And there's a lack of prosodic control, although this does speak to the relentlessness of the capitalist drive to accumulate and its unsustainability in a world littered with the carcasses of environmental exploitation, lives ruined by burn out on the treadmills of venture investing, and the casualties of shock doctrine.
It's a good thing to know that leftfield presses, even at the height of capitalist fundamentalism and the normalisation of structural violence by the powerful, even as the resistance to these mechanisms seems at its loudest in the chanting of not just the 99%, but the 2bn people on the planet living in poverty - it's good to know this bastion of literary experimentation and structural challenge, is upholding a long and, well, long, tradition of publishing house rigour and, well, rigour.
Clearly this is a call for submissions to a new magazine or anthology being launched by Dalkey Archive Press! It is probably called 'Recession'. The first issue invites creative responses on the theme of 'Employment', taking on the formal tropes of the job application, playing with the medium of the reference letter, the constraints of the curriculum vitae and the cover letter.
The Editors of G&P wholeheartedly encourage its readers to send in ten, or even twenty submissions to this exciting new project! For ourselves, we'll see if we can reach thirty applications, although you know how time-consuming these things are and we've a full time blogzine to run, which has already put paid to our personal lives, social skills and even allowed some of our leg muscles to atrophy.