perm_identity Piffing Again

by Rachel Sage

Published in Issue No. 96 ~ May, 2005

Although I wasn’t able to make it to the Vancouver AWP conference last month, Derek spent an energizing weekend there meeting and making new friends for Pif.

I am so glad he did. His stories amused and delighted me – a liquor- licensed “Central Headquarters”, Gordon Weaver’s wry commentary and XuXi’s jet-setting schedule – but, more importantly, I received a much-needed infusion of oomph. Didn’t I know that Pif has all these fabulous people in its corner? (Derek scolded me in his Eeyore-from-the-Bronx voice).

Back in 2000, when I joined Pif as a lowly copyeditor, the magazine was basking in the nuclear glow of the dot-com boom. Pif was able to pay both staff and writers with revenue from ads. We ran our own standing ad in the Poets and Writers classifieds. We numbered more than 10 editors and produced a sumptuous HTML e-newsletter. We even had a press kit.

It’s a very different Pif now. We slimmed down significantly in staff, publishing volume, server space, budget. The glamour departed along with the prophesies that online media would replace printed books. As it turns out, bookstores reclaimed the glamor along with espresso drinks and holiday sales, while so many of the zines that started up in the late 20th century have folded.

I believe Pif survived because it originated as a fresh and independent publisher of poetry, interviews and fiction. And we are still around because even after riding the wave of a history-book-worthy revolution, we could fall back on a commitment to the written word – regardless whether it appears on a page or on a screen.

Speaking for myself, I edit Pif for a very simple reason: I love to read. I love to read so much that I will forego food and sleep and human interaction to stay with a book that’s good. Sound geeky? (Yeah, my co-workers at my corporate day job seem to view my overflowing book collection as a sign of loneliness, like the lady with 10 cats.) I suspect that if you’re reading this, you’re glancing at your own bookshelves in amused recognition. I am happy to be in your company, and I hope that for a long time to come, you consider Pif a source for good things to read.

Rachel Sage