From Pif’s founder, Richard Luck
Pif was birthed from frustration. Any writer worth his or her salt knows that rejection is part of the game. You toil, you sweat, you give life to what before was lifeless, and then you send your creation out into the world to fend for itself.
During the summer of 1995, I was working like crazy trying to complete a collection of poetry and short fiction that I’d been laboring over for quite some time. As I finished each piece, I mailed it out to one respected publication or another hoping for a scrap or two of criticism, receiving even less. Some pieces were accepted for publication, most were not. What I found most disheartening was the fact that the pieces I thought to be bland, mediocre at best, were the ones being accepted while the pieces I thought to be edgy – provocative, even – were being dismissed, sometimes without even so much as a form letter of rejection.
Pif began as a home for writing that didn’t fit the mainstream; for writing that was, perhaps, a bit too rough around the edges. In the beginning, we published “as is,” with no editing being done to a piece before it was made available to our readers. The response from readers and writers was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and supportive; the response from critics was cool at best. We were viewed as amateurish (we still are in some circles, due simply to the fact that we are an e-zine without a proper print cousin). The path of the independent publisher has never been an easy one to walk, but we continued to put our best foot forward.
We still aren’t as widely read as, say, Salon or Slate. We don’t charge our readers for access to our content, either, so in this respect I believe we may be somewhat superior. And we are growing.
What does “Pif” mean?
This is a question I’m often asked. The answer is both simple and surreal. Pif is whatever you want it to be. For me, it was a typographical error on a poetry submission that reproduced well visually. That and it had a nice ring to it. It was memorable. Some have told me that it reminds them of the word pith – a medical term used to describe the action of penetrating the brain with a foreign object. Given the content we continually present to our readers, I think this description to be wholly accurate. The definition our Fiction Editor gives to the snide is “it means masturbation in Czech.” Finally, one-time Pif writer Jeremy Worsham (Adventures of Pageboy) once commented that Pif might be an abbreviated pronunciation of the word epiphany.
Any way you want to look at it, what we represent is far more important that the definition of our name. And what we represent is the highest quality poetry, fiction and commentary by up-and-coming and established writers. We are the apex, the pinnacle, the starting point for the literary e-press.