Obsidian III: Literature in the African Diaspora• Affiliated with North Carolina State University
• Dr. Joyce Pettis, ed.When Dr. Joyce Pettis took up the reins at Obsidian III in 2002, she was well aware that she was walking along a path trod by literary giants.
There was Alvin Aubert, the poet pioneer — one of the first African American poets to win plaudits from the White literary establishment as well as from his own people — who founded the journal in 1975. Then there were Gerald Barrax and Afaa Michael Weaver, acclaimed poets in their own right, who assumed the reins in 1985 and 1997, respectively.
And now it’s left to Pettis, a professor of English at North Carolina State University, to preserve what she calls the “personality” of the journal.
“We are eclectic,” she says. “Our subtitle is Literature in the African Diaspora — so that means scholarship and creative writing or interviews, poems, short fiction, occasionally novel excerpts and, of course, academic scholarship and book reviews.
“When Alvin Aubert founded the journal, his driving vision was for emerging writers to have an outlet. We’ve retained that. Since I have been editor, that focus has been expanded to emerging scholars as well.”
Of course, Obsidian III faces the same barriers as all literary journals. Pettis would not reveal circulation figures, but she adds, “I do think we are publishing up-and-coming poets and scholars who are going to make a name for themselves. We think it’s crucial for emerging writers to see themselves in print alongside established names.”
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