Who Does the Math? Introducing VIDA Counter Sarah Fawn Montgomery

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. 

A California native, I am currently located in the Midwest, where I just completed a PhD in creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I teach a combination of composition, literature, and women’s studies courses at the university, most recently a series of women’s literature and women’s studies courses focused on mental illness and the body. I primarily write nonfiction, but I also write the occasional poem and recently published a little collection, The Astronaut Checks His Watch (Finishing Line Press).


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

I became interested in VIDA while working as an editorial assistant for a 2012 all-female issue of Brevity called “Ceiling or Sky? Female Nonfictions After the VIDA Count.” The work we received was powerfully rich, and after the issue was published, I began looking more closely at VIDA’s findings and using this to influence my work as Nonfiction Assistant Editor for Prairie Schooner.


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

My favorite texts change all of the time, depending on my mood and appetite, the weather and the time, but a few favorites include Joan Didion’s fiercely elegant essays, the seamless movement of Jamaica Kincaid’s work, and Lauren Slater’s playful explorations of form, truth, and expectation.


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

Prairie Schooner, of course, because we are publishing exciting work in the print journal and online. We keep VIDA in mind with each issue we release (in fact, we have last year’s VIDA charts posted in our office), which means we are representing a range of voices, experiences, and forms. Other journals to check out include the always-funky Normal School, Brevity, and DIAGRAM, and women’s literary journals like Calyx, So to Speak, and WomenArts Quarterly.


SarahFawnMontgomerySarah Fawn Montgomery holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from California State University-Fresno and is currently a PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she has worked as Prairie Schooner’s Nonfiction Assistant Editor for several years. She is the author of The Astronaut Checks His Watch, from Finishing Line Press. Her work has been listed as notable in Best American Essays and her poetry and prose have appeared in various magazines including Confrontation, Crab Orchard Review, DIAGRAM, Fugue, Georgetown Review, The Los Angeles Review, North Dakota Quarterly, The Pinch, Puerto del Sol, Southeast Review, Zone 3 and others.