Who Does the Math? Introducing VIDA Counter Emily Vizzo

The people who count for VIDA count because they love literature. It would probably be an understatement to suggest they prefer reading over math. We wanted to learn more about what drives the individuals who make the annual VIDA Count possible. And because we are so grateful to these interns for so generously volunteering their time, we’ve launched a fundraising campaign to pay our Counters.


Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Emily Vizzo; I’m a San Diego writer working in poetry and nonfiction. This was my first year volunteering with VIDA, but I’ve been following the Count for years.


Why did you decide to become involved with the VIDA Count?

I’m a feminist. The fact that my own work, or the work of another female writer, might not be valued or treated with the same consideration given to work created by a male writer is terrifically appalling to me. Beyond absurd.

The VIDA Count makes it difficult to dismiss the gender parity concerns of female writers as unsubstantiated paranoia. Imbalances in the publishing world are real, as the numbers so disturbingly illustrate.

In addition to supporting this important tally, becoming involved with the VIDA Count helps me feel part of a community of smart, vocal women. Cate Marvin, Jen Fitzgerald, Lynn Melnick, Kate Partridge, Georgia Pearle, and my fellow VIDA interns are amazing human beings, badass writers, and relentless feminists, and I just feel grateful that I get to work with them.

I have six younger sisters, and they’re all fighters. They educate me every day about being strong and pushing back. I would do anything to help create a world that is safer and more fair for them.


Do you have a favorite book / poem / novel / short story?

I have too many to list! But, I recently reread Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and was so grateful that such a person was born in the world and wrote this beautiful book to share with us. We are so lucky.


What literary journals would you suggest readers be on the lookout for?

There are so many good ones, but in print I especially love FIELD, The Normal School, and Poetry International, which always has some really special folios from poets living in places like Burma, Iran, China, the Caribbean, Romania, Chile, Iraq, Mexico – all over. So great.

Online, the Anthropoid literary collective, Muzzle Magazine, and Vinyl Poetry are all pretty spectacular and definitely worth checking out, if you haven’t already. I serve as AME at Drunken Boat (which ran its own voluntary, in-house VIDA-style Count in our Fiction section this year, thanks to the intrepid Sybil Baker) so I’d like to point interested readers in that direction, too!


Emily VizzoEmily Vizzo lives and works in San Diego, California. Her poems and essays have been published or are forthcoming in FIELD, The Journal, The Normal School, North American Review, and other publications. Her essay, “A Personal History of Dirt,” received recognition in Best American Essays 2013. She currently teaches yoga at the University of San Diego, serves as assistant managing editor with Drunken Boat journal, and volunteers with Hunger Mountain, Poetry International, and the San Diego Area Writing Project. On Twitter: @EmilyVizzo.