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.
I counted from Charlottesville, VA. I moved up here from Durham, NC, the summer of 2010 to attend the UVA MFA program in poetry. I graduated in 2013 and, having met the proverbial love of my life in the meantime (we’re getting married in June!), have started experimenting with making a home of this small, fancy town. The experiment is made possible by my rockin’ day job as Production Editor for Teachstone, a company that offers all the fun of a tech startup with all the heart of early childhood education.
Why did you decide to become involved with the VIDA Count?
I can’t remember when I first became aware of VIDA. Cate Marvin’s visit to UVA early in 2013 certainly brought the organization into focus for me, but the idea of “The Count” had already infiltrated my sensibilities by then. When I was poetry editor of Meridian for the 2011-2012 season, for instance, the editorial staff did our own count. And I think it’s the ease with which the basic premise of the VIDA Count (how many men, how many women) seeps into other areas of your life that draws me to it. I am not usually drawn to activism; it seems like an extrovert’s game. I do not like loud noises. VIDA—though its phenomenal founders and organizers willingly and necessarily shout it from the rooftops—itself speaks almost silently, through the pies. The message of the pies is so self-evident, so non-anecdotal. For people more comfortable in front of a spreadsheet than a microphone, VIDA is the perfect microphone.
Do you have a favorite book / poem / novel / short story?
Some favorites: For novels, anything by John Steinbeck. (I’ve most recently re-read Of Mice and Men and Cannery Row.) To me, Steinbeck is like humanity’s David Attenborough. As a poet, I like prose that glitters at the sentence level—I’m in awe of writers who can sustain a vocabulary and syntax that I would halt at 20 lines and call a poem for a whole book. Annie Proulx’s Shipping News or William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom are these. For poems, Brigit Pegeen Kelly’s “Song” is a desert island I want to be stranded on (with only it’s eponymous collection to read) and then when I wither away, I’ll take Louise Glück’s Averno to guide me to the underworld or Galway Kinnell’s The Book of Nightmares to heaven, depending.
What literary journals would you suggest readers be on the lookout for?
Journals I recommend: For web reading—Wag’s Revue (outside-of-the-box content, the best newsletter emails known to man), Drunken Boat (serious quality writing, serious quality web design). For print reading—Pank (genre-bending pieces, nice-feeling pages), Poetry (yes, the institution, but I love the care with which they curate their own extensive archive, republishing old pieces, or riffing on them, to create interesting collections or give something a timely stage).
Marielle Prince is a native of Durham, North Carolina, where she spent some time as managing editor of Bull City Press. Marielle received her MFA from the University of Virginia and resides yet in Charlottesville. Her publications include poems in 32 Poems, The Collagist, Lumina, and Shenandoah.