Staff Stories: An Interview with Manjit Kaur

Tayler Lord is one of UNP’s newest staff members. She works tirelessly as a publicist, cool aunt, and dedicated Beyoncé fan. For the Press’ 75th anniversary—and out of her own curiosity—she is interviewing her more experienced co-workers to put a face on the twelfth-largest university press in the country.

Manjit Kaur is the Journals Manager at UNP. 

Tayler Lord: What’s your current job at UNP and how long have you held it?

Manjit Kaur: I’ve been the Journals manager since November 2001.

TL: Have you held other positions with the Press?

MK: I was the very first Journals assistant editor. I was hired in August 1999—that’s when the Journals program started.

TL: Please describe your most memorable moment at the Press.

MK: Oh I don’t know! Becoming Journals manager, probably. Also when I turned fifty, the staff brought in fifty cupcakes. I said, “I can’t eat fifty cupcakes on my own!”

TL: What brought you to UNP?

MK: I started as an intern. I had finished my masters and was teaching at Peru State as an adjunct. I was invited here by the former managing editor, Joy Margheim, to work in the books division. I heard about the Press because I went to grad school with Linda Wessels and she worked here as a student. We had a book group with some people from the Press, including Joy. She was made managing editor and needed someone under her to pick up the slack. I worked on books and two journals as an unpaid intern. Then the Journals assistant editor position became open and I applied.

TL: Which book have you enjoyed the most?

MK: It was a French book, a translation about Haiti. I think the author was Patrick Chamoiseau. I just kept turning the pages and saying, “Yuck. Yuck! Yuck!” And someone came in from next door and said, “What’s all the yuck yuck yuck about?” He was pulling out ants’ legs one at a time.

TL: What advice do you have for people starting a career in publishing?

MK: It’s not glamorous and it doesn’t pay well. The former managing editor said, “If you want to be in publishing, it has to be because it’s your passion, not because you’re trying to make money.”

TL: Finish this sentence: Remember when…

MK: Remember when we had bats at the Press? I had a bat in my office and I didn’t know it! I had a cupboard with three shelves behind my desk with some dried flowers in it that my husband had given me. One day I went to get something off the shelf and there was just a bat living in there among the dried flowers! It was fun.