PMS poemmemoirstory, the women’s literary journal published by the UAB Department of English, is receiving national recognition again – this time for its eighth edition. Some of its contributors are getting significant personal honors, too, including a role in President Barack Obama’s inauguration.
The latest edition of The Best Creative Nonfiction anthology includes PMS in its “Where We Found the Best Creative Nonfiction” section for the third consecutive year. The anthology also is republishing Edwidge Danticat’s memoir “Uncle Moise,” which appears in the 2008 edition.
|PMS editor Tina Harris has been published in two editions of the literary journal.
Elizabeth Alexander, whose poem “Poised” appears in the new edition, recited her poem “Praise Song for the Day” at Obama’s Jan. 20 inauguration. Maya Angelou, Miller Williams and Robert Frost are the only other poets to have read at an inauguration. Volume 8 of PMS also features an interview with Pulitzer Prize-winner Natasha Tretheway, poetry by recent National Book Award nominee Patricia Spears Jones and a story by Tayari Jones, a recipient of the 2008 Artist Grant Award, making it one of the strongest lineups in the short history of the literary journal.
“These honors are quite special for everyone involved in PMS,” says Tina Harris, PMS editor. “The 2008 edition of PMS was the first special issue in the series. It was dedicated to the writing of African-American women writers and was guest-edited by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. There’s no doubt this issue of PMS includes the most talented and notable African-American women who are writing today.”
The Best Creative Nonfiction anthology award is a major accomplishment for the journal. It is published annually and features the best new writers, ideas and approaches to creative nonfiction in literary journals, print and online magazines, alternative newspapers and blogs. Lee Gutkind, who Vanity Fair once recognized as “the Godfather behind creative narrative nonfiction,” edits the anthology.
PMS, an all-women’s journal, was founded by Linda Frost, Ph.D, a former UAB associate professor of English, and has been recognized nationally by various entities for its outstanding narrative nonfiction since 2003. Selections from PMS have been republished in The Best American Essays and The Best American Poetry.
Harris, who was published in the 2003 and 2007 editions, is editing the upcoming 2009 edition and is currently accepting entries for consideration through the end of March. She recently spoke with the UAB Reporter about PMS, its impact and the process of putting together the journal.
Q. Why do you think PMS has been such a success in the literary world?
A. I think it’s because of Linda. She has a wonderful energy and is so inclusive in drawing in writers from different aesthetic backgrounds and encouraging women who aren’t typically writers to write about their experiences. She’s included such a large group of women so there are many textures to the journal. What she started has generated its own energy. More writers want to be involved in it and support one another, and Linda’s been the impetus for that.
Q. Are the acknowledgements un-precedented for a journal that has been in existence for such a short period of time?
A. I think so. Robert Atwan, the series editor for The Best American Essays 2008, shined a light of praise on our journal in his forward last year, which read: “PMS is an interesting case. The periodical, superbly edited by Linda Frost, has been published once a year since 2001. Yet with only seven issues printed up to now, the magazine has been featured in this series three times, a rate of success that no other periodical has approached.” I think that speaks volumes.
Q. We know of the national popularity of PMS, but it has a growing international reputation as well, correct?
A. Its popularity is spreading, and PMS is developing an international reputation. Tayari Jones, who is featured in our most recent issue, already has distributed a few copies of PMS in Africa. They were so popular that she plans to distribute 50 copies to the women writers who are participating in her workshop at FEMRITE in Uganda.
She also has featured us on her very popular blog at www.tayarijones.com/blog, which gives more information about FEMRITE and PMS. Linda also recently received a request from a woman in India. She had read Ruth Stone’s poem in PMS and wanted permission to write a translation of it. Obviously, PMS now has an international as well as a national reputation of showcasing the best of women’s writing. [FEMRITE is an association of Ugandan women writers founded in 1996.]
Q. How much behind-the-scenes work is needed to create PMS?
A. One of the most rewarding aspects of PMS is the spirit of collaboration between the talented writers who contribute to the journal, the dedicated women who edit it and our excellent local designer and publisher Greencup Publishing. Linda Frost created a fantastic forum where the best of women’s writing could be showcased. She also brought together a dedicated group of women to edit the magazine. I am thrilled that Sterne librarians Heather Martin and Delores Carlito, Associate Professor of English Sue Kim, Ph.D., and English graduate student of creative writing Alicia Clavell have pledged to continue their work with PMS. Lauren Slaughter, an instructor of English, and Laurel Mills, the managing editor of Lipstick, a women’s magazine published by The Birmingham News, also will be joining us for the new issue.
Q. How do you collect the poems, memoirs and stories for PMS?
A. We have an open submission, and women can submit their work to us. We’ve published Pulitzer Prize winners, but we’ve also published people early in their writing careers and those who aren’t writers. I think that’s one of the strengths of the magazine, to be that inclusive. We don’t solicit men, of course, but if a man thinks he can publish something under a woman’s name and can get it past us, more power to him.
Q. What are the rules for submission?
A. They need to submit during our reading period, which is Jan. 1 through the March 31. We ask that they send only five poems or 15 pages of prose. They can send it to me in the English department at HB 217, 1530 3rd Ave. South, Birmingham AL 35294. We ask that they also send a self-addressed stamped envelope. A complete list of rules can be found at pms-journal.org/.
Q. How can someone buy a past copy or learn more about PMS?
A. PMS is nationally distributed by Ingram Periodicals and Ubiquity Distributors and available for checkout at Sterne Library. Copies can be ordered on Amazon.com or purchased locally at Greencup Books, Milestone Books and Little Professor Book Store. People also can contact me at email@example.com for subscriptions and copies of past issues.
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