Three Years: To Stump, and Stack – and Stem –

March 4, 2013 | by | 16 | Tagged: ,

It reaches to the Fence –
It wraps it Rail by Rail
– Dickinson,  “It sifts from Leaden Sieves”

Boston Review









London Review of Books



New Republic



New York Review of Books



New York Times Book Review



Poetry Magazine



The Atlantic



The New Yorker



The Paris Review



The Threepenny Review



Times Literary Supplement


16 Comments to 'Three Years: To Stump, and Stack – and Stem –'

  • I started my poetry blog almost five years ago. It is niche , it has a women poet’s index. People visit because they are looking for poetry and poetic prose by women writers. The fact that women’s visibility is an issue in almost all the above publications would point to the fact that the editors of said publications do not weight women’s writing, intellect or use of symbol.

    That might be unutterably sad , but also it creates potential to build up good literary reviews based on SEO, first-line terms and the works of women. I say go for it. The more people remove themselves from the traditionals , the more the editors will realise that their market is wavering , giving them a choice really : increase women’s writing visibility or disappear to part of your ‘market’.

    We have to start providing alternatives based in excellence.

    C. Murray

  • This is pretty disturbing…Some years ago Jonathan Franzen threw a hissy fit after Oprah picked The Corrections for her book club. The gist was something like book reviewing and recommendation should be left to the “experts.” I suppose he was referring to the wanktards at Harper’s and the Times Literary Supplement. He should be thankful that he has a penis, and that a pop icon like Oprah is far more balanced than the “experts.”

  • Kelly Cherry says:

    So depressing!

  • Erin Hoover says:

    @Christine, I love your index of women poets! What a great resource. I understand what you’re saying about providing alternatives, but I also wonder what happens when women writers open some of the magazines VIDA is looking at and see that there’s not a place for them. What happens when monetary awards and jobs are tied to publishing in these journals? When women don’t submit, they can always say that they’re just not getting submissions from women and that will be the excuse. I think it will matter more if if women and men who care about this issue stop buying journals that don’t publish a fair share of women.

  • @Erin

    The fact remains that when I started I was getting for two years less than 11,000 hits per annum. The blog is personal and not based wholly in the index but what it is doing is providing a searchable resource for poetry by women writers. I think that there is room to resource, fund and archive the writing of women in a simple and searchable manner , so that we can increase the visibility of women’s arts.

    My SEO points to active searches of first lines, translators, women poet’s names. It appears to be based in people searching for remembered lines. I am not a publisher but a working writer who shares the things I like and I think people approach it in a similar manner : curiosity and interest. I don’t have a submissions system- the blog is wholly based on finding and sharing interesting work.

  • Josef says:

    Why is only “Briefly noted” included for the New Yorker but the Atlantic gets cover-to-cover?

  • Paula Edelson says:

    I am new to Vida so please forgive if you already track this, but I am constantly checking publications–in particular the New York Times Book Review–not only for the number of women authors and reviewers, but, the percentage of male critics who review books written by women.. The percentage is astonishingly low–around 1% of female authors are reviewed by male critics–,while the percentage of male authors who are reviewed by female critics is somewhat higher–around 20%. These particular statistics may in themselves be less important than the sheer number of women authors and reviewers who are published; even so, it does bolster the assumption is that while male authors are mainstream enough to appeal to both genders, books written by women are to be read and enjoyed only by other women.

  • Oren says:

    To be fair, this analysis should also take into account the overall ration of men to women writers/authors in the industry. I have n o idea what that is or how one would calculate such a figure, but it could really change the conclusions drawn (or further reinforce the picture of imbalance here).

  • These numbers are disappointing BUT next year maybe include in your stats. At bookoxygen, we are committed to correcting the gender imbalance in reviewing and the books reviewed. If you want to read reviews of (mainly) women’s books written (mainly) by women, then come and take a look.

  • I have subscribed to Harper’s for thirty years. Yesterday, I cancelled my subscription, citing the VIDA numbers as proof of something I had noticed on my own. Despite its reputation as a progressive, intellectual magazine, women’s voices are absent from its pages. While it has made Zadie Smith its book review editor, it has failed to increase the number of women it publishes–in fact, the numbers have gotten worse.
    I’ll miss Harper’s, but I won’t miss my anger every month when I see how few women are included in its pages.

  • @Josef… Brielfy Noted and Cover to Cover are the “Microreviews” for their respective journals. A subset of The Count.

  • Ryan says:

    “While it has made Zadie Smith its book review editor, it has failed to increase the number of women it publishes–in fact, the numbers have gotten worse.”

    What does that tell you. It tells me that not enough women submit their work. And it’s their own fault. If you don’t submit you don’t get accepted. And btw. I edit a fairly well-known magazine so I know the gender figures that come in and I get pretty tired of the blame being placed at the feet of patriarchal editors. Seriously, do you really think we choose work based on gender. “Oh this one’s good!!! Let’s take it!!, Wait a minute…oh..shit…it’s by a woman. Ok bin it.”

    Get real.

  • Daniel Casey says:

    It is on the editors. My tiny magazine only publishes book reviews of poetry and literary fiction. I make it a top priority to find women reviewers and to review women. In 2012 with the total number of reviews being 73, GRL’s Count was

    Book Reviewers: 58% Female, 42% Male
    Male: 31
    Female: 42

    Authors Reviewed: 45% Female, 55% Male
    Male: 40
    Female: 33

    For this year, I have to focus on getting more women to review women while maintaining or improving the women reviewers number. That’s on me, not on those who submit but on me to go out and actively recruit.

    Being an editor isn’t some passive activity; it’s conscious and deliberate decision making.

    And if a tiny mag like mine can do, ones that actually bring in money can do it

  • john Doesky says:

    Maybe the statistics are like this because women reviewers aren’t as good as men?

  • Interesting stats… Yes, they can be misinterpreted without submission numbers and numbers of submittals/sex. But I have two thoughts on the overall picture: 1) Some of the comments included remarks that perhaps men were “better” writers or reviewers than women. “Better” is a value judgement clearly affected by gender differences. 2) As long as there is roughly a 50-50 split of men to women in the world, it would be reasonable to expect that the number of publishable women writers might be equal to men. I also would like to know what are the number of readers/gender these publications cater to. Are they meeting their readers’ needs with their choices?

  • Nancy McClernan says:

    Whenever there’s an article like this, there’s always one or more men who will suggest that a possible reason women are under-represented is because we live in a perfect meritocracy and men are just naturally better than women. And so there could not possibly be any discrimination at work.

    Well of course, it’s like when African American men were kept out of baseball – the obvious reason was because white men were just that much better at baseball than black men. But suddenly black men became just as good at baseball as white men, and that’s why they were allowed in.

    If women would only work harder at become as good at writing as men, then we’ll see some parity. Until then, we must bow before those manifestly superior masculine literary skills.

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