Submission Guidelines: “We don’t have any. We are open to queries and receiving manuscripts. In exchange we promise to take as long as we need to in responding and, due to circumstances conspiring against you, like mortality, to probably decline.”
Interview with Jared Schickling, Co-Founder
How did Delete Press start?
We probably each have our version of this, but Brad, Crane and I started talking about establishing a press at a bar in 2009 during our time at Colorado State’s MFA program. We’d become friends over shared interests, especially in poetry. It was evident to me that Brad and Crane had already given this considerable thought, as I had. It didn’t take much to convince us it was a good idea. Luckily we agreed on the idea of starting a “small” press; whatever our goals were then, they were not commercial, we were ok with losing money. By the time we left that night, we had a name and a plan. It’s a gamble pursuing a high-stakes project like a press. You are responsible for promoting someone else’s writing, and yet you’re indulging your very own person by choosing what and how to do it. We naturally wanted the press to be successful (we still do). I think I may have actively put much less thought into this than my friends, but our main concern at the time was our chances of attracting the right manuscripts to publish. Wherever it is we’re at now, whatever the press has turned out to be, the actual challenges over time were not what I was expecting.
Crane had a poet in mind, C.J. Martin, for our first project. They had met as grad students at Buffalo. And so we began. It was a real privilege and a pleasure to publish that work as our first gig. Over time we’ve branched off with side projects, which has helped us keep working together, I think. We can indulge our private obsessions while simultaneously building something deliberate and organic together. I started eccolinguistics, a poetry mailer, some years ago. Brad has been working on Opon, an e-journal of the long poem and accompanying process statements, and Crane has pocalypstic editions, a maker of artist’s books and poem objects.
It’d be wrong if I didn’t acknowledge the program at CSU. The activity among the poets there was frenetic. So much going on. Sasha Steensen and Bonfire Press put the poets to work on a Vandercook, and Crane fell in. And the publishing, in and around the institution; I had five serious editing gigs by the time I left, all very different and wildly informative. I think it’s safe to say that through the program we gained a lot of the desire and confidence necessary to risk failing. And the freaking mountains. I’d advise anyone looking at writing programs to take a good close look at CSU.
Tell us a bit about Delete Press. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
It would be impossible to pin down my own “like” list, let alone ours. This will probably get me into trouble, and I’m surely misrepresenting them by going here, but I know Brad really digs Emily Dickinson, Kate Greenstreet, Lorine Niedecker, John Taggert, Sappho, the outdoors, archives (he’s a librarian), various sorts of quiet and gnosis. Crane is deep into the book arts, and he can talk at length about zaum, dada, concrete poetry, Russian futurism and the like. He’s also become a bit of a Civil War buff. I enjoy works in translation, probably owing to time served as an anthropologist, anything displaying an eco-sensibility, Black Mountain, the objectivists, Language poetics, structuralist theory, the Romantics, anything old and in the way, especially the Greeks and 19th c. American literature. Psychoanalytic, postcolonial, Marxist, feminist theory, I’ll like just about anything. Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing” crushes me every time.
So we’re not much into categories. Not when it comes to Delete Press. We are open to anything, but that doesn’t mean we like everything. We publish “anti-gravity ephemera,” as Crane puts it. As far as the medium is concerned, electronic or print, we make that call based on the manuscript, as we seek a harmony of form and content.
Aesthetically and mission-wise, which is to say, in relation (as Kamau Brathwaite advises poets, it has to be) to the rest of the poetry field, I’d like to think of Delete as a dexterous flea.
Can you give us a preview of what’s current and/or forthcoming from your catalog, as well as what you’re hoping to publish in the future?
We recently sold out of our most recent, Andrew Rippeon’s Porches. Crane finished a collaboration with Kyle Schlesinger and Cuneiform Press, Ted Greenwald’s Later Lately, which we will be helping to distribute. Brad is working on a new website. Zach Keebaugh’s “Bad Appearance” should be finished later this year as a paper product. It’s Zach’s second book, and his second book with us, and we couldn’t be selfishly happier about the arrangement. Zach is a fine, fine poet. E-wise there’s the NSA App for Poets and Kent Johnson’s Prize List, and we have some others in queue, feminist theory in the form of a deconstructed novel from Kristin Prevallet, others from Zhou Sivan, Mark Clements, and Fred C. Applebaum. We have plans for a full-length series consisting of limited edition, fully handmade and letter pressed titles, alongside hard-back trade editions.
What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
DIY. DIY. DIY.
How do you cope? There’s been a lot of conversation lately about charging reading fees, printing costs, rising book costs, who should pay for what, etc. Do you have any opinions on this, and would you be willing to share any insights about the numbers at Delete Press?
I have strong opinions on these issues and zero influence. We run Delete as we think a press like us should be run and hope for the best. I’m no longer surprised by just how thoroughly people buy into publishers who charge reading fees or the contest model of publishing. I’ve paid those fees myself, and every once in a while get the weird hankering for a good old cash purge. Publishing is a wonderful thing but it’s a rigged game where the field is exploited. To me that’s simply the harsh reality, and one poets learn simply to tolerate. The ethics of neither charging reading fees nor setting up the ruse of a contest are, to me, obvious. The CLMP Code of Ethics amounts to some public relations for stakeholders whose wording does not interfere with how the process gets corrupted. And my position goes beyond morality. The bottom line is presses requiring reading fees can’t afford their projects without it. They will say that themselves. I am of the persuasion, based on my reading, that the only presses worth pursuing have a consistent record of publishing and don’t ask for money from writers until the checkout counter. This sweeping generalization made possible by glossing certain glaring exceptions and, though I have zero influence, I don’t seek it, either. Poetryland is thrilling enough, on its own. And Vonnegut is right: criticizing literature is like dressing up in armor to attack apple pie.
I am much more ok with publishers offering their services for a fee than I am with reading fees or contests. It is more honest and less neoliberal, more in line with the history of publishing.
In terms of numbers, there are a lot of them to consider, but sticking to $$, which is of course *the* obstacle in publishing, we are small and niche, so we don’t have to think much about distribution in order to recoup costs. That said, our paper books–artistic curiosities each–are expensive to make in more ways than one, and we’ve been deliberate about keeping the price irrationally low. Our philosophy involves making books for poets, not the art world, though we love them too. We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve stayed consistently in the black with our books. Regarding eccolinguistics, a few hundred copies go out for free with each issue, but we eat that. Over the past two or three years we’ve also built a significant e-component, very cheap to produce but a medium filled with potential, which helps fill in the space time between projects on paper. Brad’s work helps us develop this aspect of Delete. It’s definitely a wave we plan on riding.
To quote Michael Seidlinger, and it’s really this simple, “we’re coping.”