PLM Editor’s Note 2009

phati’tude Literary Magazine (PLM) is back, and with a vengeance! We’re the same publication that premiered back in 1997, but we are better and smarter than ever. We still publish poetry, fiction, interviews, reviews and essays written by both emerging and established writers of diverse origins whose works exhibit social, political and cultural awareness. We’re also publishing excerpts on our website under phati’tude online including artwork, flash movies, rants, and photography.
When PLM premiered, it was not a typical literary journal. Let’s face it, literary magazines are essentially an outlet for writers, and in most cases, the reader’s pleasure being decidedly secondary, PLM was different. Instead of publishing a hodgepodge of fiction, poetry and essays, we created a book that was seamlessly aesthetic to a much wider audience.

The name itself was concocted from a slang dictionary, with “phat” meaning “emphatic” and “tude” short for “attitude.” The idea was to generate an “emphatic attitude” on contemporary literature by continuing the literary arts programming I had developed at the Langston Hughes Community Library & Cultural Center (Queens Library) in Corona, New York during the early 1990s. PLM offered a wide collection of works that consisted of poetry, prose, short stories, articles, interview and essays, along with literary criticism, book reviews and biographical profiles by established and emerging artists, poets and writers with an emphasis on writers of Native American, African, Hispanic/Latino and Asian descent. Founded in 1996 and published under the auspices of Chimeara Communications, Inc. (CCI), a for-profit company, PLM published its first issue, “We’re All in This Together” in 1997.

At the time of its inception, most journals were published in a 6×9 format, with little graphics and spoke directly to the literati, publishers, professors and writers. When PLM came on the scene, it was an 8×10 book with a glossy 4-color cover that contained graphics and artwork on every page. It was one of the few journals at the time produced using desktop publishing with a website presence through AOL. It was the first to call itself a “magazine” instead of a journal that published writers outside the “so-called” literary canon. We created literary programs in the New York/New Jersey area using many of the writers that participated in PLM and in effect, created a family within the literary community.

Unfortunately, it cost $12,000 to publish one issue of PLM, and at the time, many funders decided to drop funding for literary publications, while others would not take on new literary publications. Since PLM was being published under a for-profit entity, I was throwing more and more money into the abyss. Why? The first issue was beautiful and well-received so I wanted to keep going. But by becoming the lender of last resort, I put myself into debt and eventually was forced to put the magazine aside.

In 2000, a few close colleagues nagged and reminded me not only what PLM represents, but the urgent need for its existence. So it was decided that in order for PLM to flourish, it would be best served under a nonprofit entity and in 2000, the Intercultural Alliance of Artists and Scholars, Inc. (IAAS) was born. A New York-based nonprofit organization, the IAAS was developed to foster understanding of and respect for cultural diversity through literature and media literacy. Under this new organization, we published the long-awaited “Indian Summer: Featuring the Works of Native American Writers” in September 2001 to present to the Native Writer’s Circle of the Americans and WordCraft Circle of Native Writers’ conference in Norman, Oklahoma. Yes, you heard me, September 2001 and needless to say, the funding opportunities we initially expected quickly disappeared before our very eyes.

So we went on to create phatLiterature, A Literary TV Program , with the belief that this project would be easier to fund. We did acquire some funding and produced episodes in 2002, 2004 and 2006, but we missed doing PLM. After broadcasting the program on over 50 public access and college networks, we decided to reassess how we can make the IAAS better and be able to produce both the literary magazine and tv show, as well as other program initiatives we were trying to do.

Recently, we attracted new talent to our organization who brought new ideas and fresh perspectives to the IAAS, so we created phati’tude programs, to strengthen brand recognition, and as a result, the creation of this website. phatLiterature became phati’tude Literary TV Show, and along with PLM, other programs became part of this initiative.

It’s no secret that the economics of single-title, independent magazine publishing is tough. But as new technologies unfolded, it became increasingly clear that we could carry PLM’s work forward, multiplying both the audiences we’re able to reach and the resources we’re able to offer, by exploring new formats. So after a long hiatus, we decided to relaunch PLM and publish it four times a year using print-on-demand services, eliminating a $50,000 bill and ensuring that every copy has a home. We’re also publishing ebook versions of the magazine utilizing services such as Amazon Kindle(TM), and publishing excerpts on our website, combining old and new media distribution models that finally allows us to financially do what we love. Electronic publishing is also the greenest option: it kills no trees, requires very little energy, never goes out of print, and can reach anyone on the planet.

Having figured out a way to bring PLM back, it begged the question, should it come back? I mean, after being out-of-the-loop these past few years, was PLM an idea past its prime? We thought about it and realized that even after all this time, PLM still remains a unique literary publication. Even in these tough times, literary magazines are the first (and in some cases the last) bastion that provides many writers with access to publication, often for the first time, providing the critical feedback that every writer needs. Literary magazines are important because they have been and remain sponsors of innovation, purveyors of experimentation and protesters against tradition and convention. More importantly, they are a vital link between writers and their readers, be they new writers publishing for the first time or established authors producing work between books.

Keeping that in mind, we remain committed to publishing works that represent social, political and cultural awareness and reflect personal experiences, ideas and thoughts. We want to publish works of passion and purpose that also celebrate the authentic voices of multicultural writers, because we recognize the need for writers to breathe on their own without suffocating the premise of multicultural literature to death. We want to cover the gamut and provide our readers with some new aspect of our own humanity. We believe in a sense of place and person, in writing that reveals through its directness an essential human story. We therefore seek writers who are capable of extraordinary honesty, dignity, and insight, to displace the myths and stereotypes that pervade our culture. Most importantly, we recognize that the need for an “emphatic attitude” is even more relevant than ever before, and no one does it better than PLM, from which its name was derived.

PLM intends to stand by its original mission: that it’s not afraid to break stereotypical notions of how literature is “suppose” to be written. We hope you will agree that PLM demonstrates variety in both expressive format and subject matter, and that ultimately, will whet your appetite for more!

Gabrielle David
Executive Director
The Intercultural Alliance of Artists & Scholars, Inc.

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