R.O.W.E. week 18: the VIDA Count

I’m Brianna Kratz, a Chicago poet and literature enthusiast. In 2016, I’m reading only women authors for my Read Only Women Experiment (R.O.W.E.). For weekly updates on challenges, conversations, and round-up lists of books I’ve read during the month, keep up with me via Goodreads or Twitter.

Photo by Andrew Gingerich Photo by Andrew Gingerich

Hello, this is your monthly Read Only Women Experiment update!

In April, I read only poetry to celebrate National Poetry Month, and these were my five favorites, in no particular order.

But I’m not just here to gloat about the staggering amount of reading I’ve been able to do. I’m here to talk about the 2015 VIDA Count.

What the heck is the VIDA Count?

The VIDA Count is an initiative run by VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, a research-driven organization that collects data on women’s writing in literary publications, book reviews, or publications reviewed by women. This data comes from top tier journals, publications, and press outlets that basically create and feed the literary community. If men review books by men, work by women goes unnoticed. VIDA strives to make disparities in publishing tangible and give the conversation a quantitative basis.

I like the VIDA Count website a lot because there are great visual aids and positive language to help explain and celebrate the efforts of various publications. I highly recommend taking a look.

Too long, can’t read the whole thing? There are highlights right on the VIDA Count’s page for 2015. This year VIDA also started focusing more on intersectionality to examine race and ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, and ability.

In reflecting about this year’s VIDA Count, I did a couple creative Google searches which turned up a 2014 article by Matt Rowan in Electric Literature about innovative magazines in Chicago. Though some of the journals in this list are defunct or really difficult to find, I did a quick and dirty breakdown of the men and women in the mastheads listed on their websites.

Artifice Books is now an imprint of Curbside Splendor Publishing, so I broke down the masthead of Curbside Splendor. Men: 5 Women: 2

Another Chicago Magazine. Men: 2 Women: 4

Knee-Jerk Magazine. Men: 7 Women: 1

MAKE Literary Magazine. Men: 13 Women: 14

Poetry Magazine is included in the VIDA Count, so if you’re looking for something familiar, start there!

VIDA is so important because it helps us be aware of the disparity between men and women in writing and reviewing for literary arts publications. When you think about the material you’re reading, who wrote it? Who recommended you read it? Who’s featured in the contents of literary journals? I encourage you to be thoughtful.

Right here in Chicago we have some great events that you can attend to support women writers and artists.

Poetry Off the Shelf: Cathy Park Hong Thursday, May 5 at 7:00pm Poetry Foundation

Author Reading: Desiree Cooper, KNOW THE MOTHER, in conversation with Jasmine Sanders Friday, May 6 at 7:30pm Women & Children First

Pilsen Art House, ALL women, all art Friday, May 6 6:00pm-11:00pm 1756 W. 19th St.

A humble house reading: francine j. harris Sunday, May 15 at 6:00pm 3020 W. George St., #1

Currently reading: Dragonflight by: Anne McCaffrey

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Brianna Kratz

Brianna Kratz has a B.A. in English Writing from Illinois Wesleyan University where she learned the importance of "the poetic turn," the difference between thee and you, and how to read Middle English. She lives on the Internet where you can find her on Twitter and Lens & Ink.