“Nobody Owes Anybody Anything Because We Are All In For The Craft”- T.J Dan, Co-founder, Praxis Magazine.
It’s another time again on the SyncityNG Literary Lords and Ladies show and today we are hosting the founders of Praxis Magazine.
Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature is a digital company that aims to create a rallying point for writers and artists to commune and progress their craft. The magazine showcases unique arts, literature, podcasts and performance poetry from both established and emerging writers, artists and poets.
Daniel John Tukura – popularly known as Tee Jay Dan, – is a writer and documentary filmmaker who initially trained as Screenwriter with the New York Film Academy. He is founder, publisher and digital editor at Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature.
Jennifer Chinenye Emelife is co-founder and lead correspondent at Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature.
Hello TJ! Nice to have you on the show.
It’s a pleasure to be here!
Let’s begin. How did an established filmmaker think of establishing a digital publishing platform?
I have always wanted to see a digital platform that does more than publishing of works of fiction and annual or quarterly issues. So I wrote down some other things such platform could do and reached others to those already in existence. They all rejected my ideas. So, in 2015 I put together a team and we started Praxis Magazine for Arts and Literature. We wanted a digital platform for everyone- photographers, painters, writers, poets, readers and some more! I was in love with @GrantaMag and Kalahari Review but wanted something more.
What do you think publishers owe emerging writers?
Nobody owes anybody anything, really. We are all in this for the love of craft. And I am not smart enough to speak for other publishers. At Praxis though, we try to level the ground so new voices can stand side by side with older, established voices. We’ve published intentionally recognised authors with six books to their names right next to work from a young Nigerian poet in secondary one. This is because literacy is about expanding horizons, it is about becoming able to take part in a conversation.
Tell us how far Praxis Magazine has come and how you have helped new voices in the literary space.
Praxis is three years old. We have done incredibly well as a digital platform with a social responsiblity. We have launched the careers of an increasing number of poets and writers. Some of the poets we publish, like Romeo Oriogun go ahead to enjoy beautiful careers. Most important of all, we allow new voices to be adventurous with their art. We do not confine them to any such predefined responsiblity. No, our singular agenda is the absolute freedom of expression. We encourage artists to be irreverent, to touch topics others keep away from. The Praxis Chapbook Series has espcially given new voices the chance to start new converstions and bring fresh perspectives to existing dialogues. We understand that the human race must constantly negotiate its future and we insist that all stateholders have their say! We also have some interesting projects specially designed for emerging voices. It is the #Poetry4Change initiative in partnership with @julietkego and the Whole Woman Network. As we plan the future of the arts we look to the emerging voices.
What do you think about the digital publishing space in Nigeria?
The digital space in Nigeria is new, and , like the rest of the world, nobody seems to have figure out exactly what to do with it. There are ideas scattered here and there. But has any caught significant traction yet? No, especially with the arts. We lack the synergy and resources. Before I started Praxis I reached out to some digital platforms to incorporate my ideas and make me a board memeber. They all refused. A year after we started, one of them was in Kampala saying they would rebrand and bury us. I wanted collaboration, he wants competition. Most literary journals over here resulted from ego trips. People want to people able to say “I am publisher of scrantum scranka” or “We too get our own”. So they start and in a year or two disband. Investigate further and you may find that the international conflict was about control.
Do you think digital publishing stands a chance in Nigeria in coming years?
Definitely. The problem we face here is a global one. Nobody has figured out a model to make digital publishing profitable as yet. Except you are @TheAtlantic you will only keep trying until you happen upon what works. Nigeria has its special problem. Besides electricity and internet problems, we have the absence of grants and endowments. Most big literary journals of the world survived for many years off grants andendowments from art organisations and universities. We go dey alright, las las.
The publishing houses that told you, “no” Where are they today? Care to shake some tables?
Ha ha. I am too busy building the Praxis table to shake theirs. African artists are in urgent need of platform support. And Praxis will continue to thrive at providing such support. See what we keep doing with poetry, for instance.
As an expert filmmaker who is busy with projects, how do you find time to keep up with the literary world?
First of all, having a dedicated editorial board reduce my work by half. I work for at least 8 hours a day, all things being equal. At least two out of my working hours is dedicated to Praxis and two more out of my resting hours: researching, discussing projects, publishing.
TJ has been emphasizing collabos since. If you like, forget SyncityNG when it is time to collaborate.
Ha ha. @SynCityNG na our day one baby na. We can never forget!
I heard someone somewhere that e-published writers are “half-baked” writers. How does your platform correct this impression?
Well, no writer who’s been published in Praxis can be referred to as many cringe-causing writing in circulation, both in print and online. It is a modern quamire for publishing in general, not only electronic publishing. Here is why. With the advent of vanity press, and because publishers are looking to make profit, anyone can up and publish everything they pen down. While some digital platforms publish about everything becuase they need content! But you see, our editors are deliberate so we do not have that. I invite people who hold this opinion as truth to engage with contents on our website (praxismagonline.com) and see if they remain the same after doing so.
Thanks to our guest @praxismagonline for honoring our invitation. It was such a pleasure. TJ has been amazing tonight!
Thank you for having me!
Special thanks to all the #Synners who tuned in tonight. You guys amaze me every single day. The support is overwhelming, and don’t forget to join us next Monday!
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