Florentina Abramov, a 16-year-old resident of Kew Gardens Hills, has had a strong taste for writing for much of her life.
I abuse my journal, she said. When I write, every entry is five or six pages.
Abramov has transformed her talent into Graffiti Magazine, a publication that has received rave reviews and financial support from non-profit groups around the city.
Graffiti is one of the citys many zines, independent magazines put together on a low budget that often cater to youth and are distributed in high schools.
Abramov, now a junior at the School for the Physical City in Manhattan, founded the magazine with her friend, Evelyn Goffman, while they were in eighth grade.
The magazine has little to do with graffiti, although one issue does profile a Graffiti Life. Instead, Abramov and Goffman chose the title for its connotation.
People do it outside, and its kind of scandalous, Abramov said.
Many of the stories in Graffiti openly discuss somewhat taboo sexual subjects from a teenagers vantage point. Opinion pieces make up a large portion of the magazine, although it also includes profiles of artists and musicians as well as fiction and poetry.
We have a no-censorship policy, she said. We curse in there, well talk about whatever we want to say.
Abramovs family, who emigrated from Israel, is relatively religious. Abramovs parents have been highly supportive of her work, she said.
Graffiti has a staff of about 20 junior high school, high school and college students.
The publication is driven by the idea that the youth voice needs a proper outlet in order to gain respect.
People think that teenagers dont know what theyre talking about. They think were confused, Abramov said. Shockingly, teenagers understand more than normal grownups.
It is that voice that has earned the magazine recognition.
This month Abramov won first prize in a contest run by the Citizens Committee for New York City, a non-profit that supports neighborhood efforts.
The Citizens Committee awarded Graffiti $1,650.
Shes extremely driven and really talented, said Sophie Nurani, special projects coordinator for the Citizens Committee. Its not your mainstream teen publication, and its a good voice for people to speak about serious issues.
Abramovs drive is currently focused on making her publication more visible.
Many of publications similar to Graffiti are available only online, as was Graffiti itself during its first year. The zine still has an Internet presence and can be viewed at www.graffitimag.com.
There are thousands of zines, but I dont really see them around, she said.
Graffitis staff is in the process of contacting principals at high schools across the city, trying to sell the magazine in the schools. They are also trying to sell the publication at newsstands at Union Square and Washington Square in Manhattan. The planned price is $2.
Just in its second issue, the look of the magazine has already changed dramatically.
The first issue features cutouts of pictures from magazines on its cover. The second issue, which is printed in a bigger format, shows only one photograph of a man reading with an apartment building faint in the background. The image was taken by one of Graffitis staffers.
We really went from the small one to the big one because we wanted it to look a lot more professional, Abramov said.
Abramov said she hoped print the third issue in color and the fourth in gloss.
Abramov hopes to attend New York University and continue to expand Graffiti both during and after college.
While the publication likely will continue to evolve, Abramov said Graffiti will always offer new points of view.
If you want to write about something, write about something that no one has and no one understands.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.
©2003 Community News Group
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