Emily Vieweg, MFA is a poet and playwright originally from St. Louis, Missouri. Her work has been published in Foliate Oak, The Voices Project, Northern Eclecta, Red Weather Literary Magazine, Soundings Review, Art Young's Good Morning, and more.
Her one-act play Atomic Lounge was performed in Chicago at The 25th Annual Abbie Hoffman Died for Our Sins Theatre Festival in 2013.
Emily's debut chapbook Look Where She Points is available from Plan B Press.
She lives in Fargo, North Dakota where she is a mother of two, pet parent, data processor and adjunct English instructor.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
I couldn't believe it. Part of me still can't. That's me, those are my words, and they wanted to know more about ... me ...
I truly am honored to be (gulp) featured on a website. I have had poems published and a short interview that I applied for, but this is the first time I have ever been approached for an interview.
Is this real?
My significant other is in awe of my writing talent, as he calls it. I still have my doubts. Even though I have a full page of writing publications on my "writing CV," have been invited to two residencies this summer and have been accepted to an online graduate certificate program for teaching writing - I still have doubts.
Until fifth grade I attended a private Catholic school.
One lesson I remember was about a piece of construction paper that represented a person's self worth, appreciation and disappointment. With each action (falling on the playground, getting an F on an assignment, dropping your hot lunch on the floor, a person teasing you) a piece of the paper was torn off, representing a fragment of the self worth being taken away. Overnight when we slept, that time was for rebuilding that self worth - that was the heart's job. Unfortunately, the "person teasing you" event did not heal, leaving a corner still ripped away, leaving a hole hoping to be filled - but once that kind of event happens, the hurtful words event, those rips are permanent. Sure, it's just a small corner, but enough small corners can add up to tremendous pain. Always there, always missing that corner piece.
I still hear that one Creative Writing instructor's voice saying to me in the middle of class, in front of everyone, "Emily, your writing sucks."
That is one of my missing corners.
Then I remember Brian, my instructor at Washington University when CJ was 5. I took a Writing Poetry Workshop for fun and to get back into writing. His critique was, "I think I know where you want to go with this, it just feels off. Something doesn't quite work."
I feel like I am that piece of paper, missing that corner, trying to prove to that instructor that I am an adequate writer. Adequate - as in, mediocre. All I wanted was to be appreciated as a writer. I have been chasing this idea of being an adequate poet for the past 22 years.
Sad, don't you think? I have been chasing the idea of being an adequate poet, instead of realizing that I am an accomplished poet. I have a chapbook published and was approached for an interview.
That little piece of doubt is still there. Some would say I need to just get over it and move on. That little piece of doubt keeps me humble, keeps me grounded, keeps me aware that not everyone will enjoy my work, and that some people should not teach the subject they practice themselves.
I am honored to share my work with the HocTok.com readers.
I am humbled to know that my work has made it to New York City and is appreciated by others who "get" what I am trying to do and say.
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Okay, so we are into a new year, a new beginning with new struggles, new lessons, new writing, new everything. Many young people do not realize the damage this country has gone through with inept leaders at the helm.
Typically I would not "go political" on a professional blog, but so many artists and writers are sharing their feelings, and since I share my thoughts on twitter and facebook and a host of other social media pages, it feels wrong to not include my professional blog in the list.
Our country is facing some dangerous changes. A person with little regard to the welfare of others will become the leader of the United States of America. A person with boatloads of money to squander on gold toilet flanges and ten-thousand-dollar suits will be in charge of the fate of 100 million people in this country and millions of others outside this country. The Electoral College has spoken, and this person will be the president.
At times I shrink and say "what if we just sit back and wait it out?" - but just for a moment. Once I realize that defeatist attitude has infiltrated my being, I battle it out and say to myself "What would Anna do?" (Anna is my sister and my biggest cheerleader). When Anna feels overwhelmed, she runs. She runs and listens to music and escapes the fear by focusing on something she loves to do. She isn't running away from a problem, she is finding her center, finding her focus, finding herself again.
So I must do what I do when I need to find myself.
I must write.
I must create, I must speak out, I must make myself clear.
I must be direct and honest, while still showing compassion and grace when I am faced with insults to my intelligence.
I have been called some nasty, dirty names by people who do not know me. They have called me a "Lib-Tard" and "Sorry excuse for space" and "I feel sorry for your students."
All because I said "I have better things to do than watch the inauguration of a man who treats women like property and openly mocks people with disabilities. I'm washing my hair on inauguration day."
I will stand by my statement. I will wash my hair on inauguration day, and stand with my fellow writers who are tweeting #WritersResist
I cannot just sit and support a person who has openly mocked people with disabilities, bragged about sexual assault, denied payment to contractors, and a host of other despicable actions, just because the Electoral College elected him president. Respect is earned, and he has not earned my respect.
The Arts are where we tell the truth through stories.
Artists across the country and the globe are coming together to say NO. This is NOT what our country is about. We will NOT condone this type of behavior. We will fight for our rights, for the rights of others, for the rights of those without voices - we will not allow rich men in power to determine our fates.
My fate lies within myself.
We must be daring. We must find the strength within ourselves and among ourselves to keep kindness and empathy at the forefront of the American psyche.
As my father said when the current president-elect won the nomination, "We've survived assholes before. We'll survive this one."
I agree. We will survive. If we work together. If we work with intelligence and within the law and within our rights.
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
for the interview on Feminist Voices.
Here are some highlights. Read the entire Interview Here.
Q: Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why or why not?
A: I think first and foremost I am a humanist. I truly believe that a woman and a man, though they have different brain chemistries, can accomplish the same tasks – albeit in possibly different ways. The point of feminism is to give a voice to the women who have been silenced simply because their voices were not considered strong enough to plow through the male wall of misogyny.
Q: Describe a feminist moment in your life.
A: In college I took a Psychology of Women course. The first assignment was to write a paper explaining what made me a woman. Three pages, not a big deal – I think the instructor just wanted to see where each of us was in our thinking. I wrote the entire paper, then read it to my mom (it was an oral report). In the first sentence, I realized that I hadn’t written about being a woman, but being a person. How I was raised to be a good person, a successful person, a just person, a person who respected differences in people and celebrated all successes, a person who gave money to the random homeless person on the street, as long as my own bills were already paid.
I never thought of myself as a woman, or a girl, or a female – not specifically in those words – because I hadn’t been treated specifically “like a girl.” I had been raised to be a contributor to society. The only thing that made me “woman” was the fact that I had two X chromosomes – because technically, scientifically, the only difference between women and men is strictly chemical.
I realized that I had to rewrite my entire paper. In one night. I had to look myself in the mirror and figure out what was so “woman” about me?
Q: Who do you think is going to win this war, and who do you think should win?
A: I do not believe there is “a war.” There is a battle, but the war is not really win-able. No one can win this war – that means there is a winner and a loser. If women and men are equal, is there really a loser? Who loses? In my opinion, nobody. This probably shows my naïvete, to think than any world can live in peace with equality for all. However, this is my hope. I dream for a world where my children do not need to fear hatred or anguish or persecution or insults, just because there is someone bigger, or smarter, or more able, or more privileged – because everyone deserves a chance to succeed. Why is anyone’s success determinate on those who have been stepped on? What kind of success is that? That is not success – that is societal privilege.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
First, the chapbook....
She is at the printer. This is real. Here's the cover art.
I came across The Basil O'Flaherty website randomly on a creative submissions group on Facebook.
The Basil O' has published my title poem "Look Where She Points" and another poem in the chapbook, "Vessel."
I am all about finding the unheard voice, especially the voice within ourselves. The Basil O' helped me realize my Feminist Voice
Last night I received an email from The Basil O' regarding the Feminist Voices Interview I completed a few days earlier. I like to take my time answering questions thoughtfully, respectfully, honestly and succinctly.
I never thought of myself as a feminist, I suppose that's why this is all so intriguing to me. Even after my Psychology of Women class, when I realized that I didn't know who I was as a woman - because in my family it wasn't about growing up to be a good woman. My sister and I were raised to be good, productive people. For a while I was the "girlie girl" and my sister was the "tomboy" but eventually I got tired of the dresses and patent-leather uniform shoes and changed it up to jeans and t-shirts. Sure, I like to get dressed up, but only if I am in the mood and feel like putting that much effort into my appearance -- usually I don't.
I was shy, an observer, a quiet girl on the sidelines. It seemed like whenever I tried to make my voice known (to teachers, other kids, etc), I either said the wrong thing or teased (moreso in public school than in catholic school).
I was so afraid of disappointing someone - anyone! I was definitely a people-pleaser. I wanted to keep the peace, avoid conflict on any level... but eventually the stress would build up and something would trigger an explosion. I would let it all out - how scared I was about what other people thought of me, how angry I was about what the neighborhood kids did to me on the bus, how I am teased because I was the "teacher's pet" and that I had a big nose.
I am forty years old now with two children.
My son is 17 and in his senior year of high school. CJ has worked through his Autism Spectrum Disorder and is doing well.
There have been some hiccups this year, particularly with writing assignments.
Last night I think he found his writing voice again.
Keep it up - your words are your ticket.
My daughter is 3 1/2 and has a host of issues - dietary, behavioral, communication - all under the umbrella of her chromosome "one q twenty-one point one" (1q21.1) microdeletion. She's a fighter, to be sure. She is very "three-nager" right now.
Listening to my two kids argue in the car is a hoot.
"Stop touching me!"
"NO brother, you stop!"
"Leave me alone, Tink."
I found myself wondering what universe I was in... a 17 year old and a 3 year old speaking the same exact language to each other... I just had to giggle.
and now I write.
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
For the past week or so I have been participating in the 30/30 project with Tupelo Press. This is an intense creative endeavor, writing 30 poems in 30 days. I am doing my best to keep the creative juices flowing, but as you know, life happens - so this week I am going to write more than one piece per day, I am going to attempt to write TWO! (crazy, right?)
This amazing project is similar to NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month - April) and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month - November), where poets write 30 poems or a full novel in 30 days.
About the 30/30 Project
Tupelo Press selects a group of poets to write a poem each day in a given month. These poems are published on the 30/30 blog. This project has two reasons for existing:
1) To support poetry and the literary arts
2) To raise funds for a small nonprofit literary press.
Tupelo Press is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) literary press - check them out here.
I write short poetry. I say as much as possible in as few words as possible. Hopefully painting a picture of a scene and describing it in such a way that the meaning is unmistakable.
My fundraising goal for this project is $350.00.
Already family and friends have donated $100 towards my goal, and I am so very grateful for that. For me this isn't about the money, it's about promoting what I love to do - writing. Expressing myself through words that are sometimes difficult to come by in the moment, but after reflection, can develop into a snapshot of life.
If you cannot support the project financially, that is okay! Stop by the 30/30 blog every day to read new poems.
Thank you for all the love, guidance and support.
In partnership with Tupelo Press 30/30
Friday, October 7, 2016
Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA), September 2016
What follows below is auto-writing from my visit to the MIA in September. I was drawn to this piece and it did not want to let me go. I spent half the day standing and sitting in this room - this photo is me. I didn't know my boyfriend was taking pictures, so you probably see my head cocked to the side, as if I'm trying to figure something out... You're right. I'm still trying to figure it out...
You'll notice some *** in a few of the words - that doesn't mean swear words, that means "crap I was writing way too fast and now I don't know what that word is!!!"
The original message is white on black -
but the people - the cover ups - the letters
scrawled within the ***trals are screaming to get out
searching for a clear message I find none.
There is something here beneath the canvas
overlays - yelling to me to find and free it.
Light and shadow canvas on black on white
Justice is hidden behind filters - my truth is
not your truth but it is still truth
and now I sit on the museum floor - perplexed
by this being - this trial in front of me -
What is it saying?
That justice and law and experiments are
clouded by our filters
How innocence is not
objective but subjective depending on the crime or
offense or indignity thrust upon me - and
it is my job to find meaning behind the
paint - behind the mask - behind the canvas -
behind the makeup - the fingerprints - the
strategically placed brush strokes -
I wonder what glue holds this together -
this melding of the materials -
A hand is reaching out to me and I cannot
see it but I feel it - there is no doubt -
my purpose is to free
the message displayed
so I sit - soaking in
the images - ignoring
the footsteps and
coughing security guard
and just be in the
presence of this work ---
They're faces -
a hundred faces pleading
their case - Quiet eyes
peering through the
shards of canvas --
Do they see what I see -
Do I want to know what
is really there? Do I ...
I keep coming back to the
message in the canvas -
maybe if I sit closer
I will see more
or maybe not
Faces / pain / beaks / bodies
words are painted beneath
the canvas and between
and over and under
Fingerprints are not a mistake
I sit to the left for a
new perspective -
ART / STRING / SPRING
What are we guilty of except pleasure and what kind
of trial is this?
A man in uniform ~~ clergy?
dog barking lower right
death whispering to a
downed polar bear -
bottom right - a FACE
a bowed head
bottom center - person reclining
2 in bed
am i reading into this?
Do i care?
I am seeing faces
everywhere - bodies
hunched in agony or
looking behind the letters
and into the canvas - between
the visible and into the
subjective - as guilt or
innocence and be seen --
I was right to change my
perspective and glad I
do not force myself
onto a sofa or chair
I still see words and
letters... trying to look
through them --
I don't care that they are
whispering or about whom
they are ss-ss-ss-ss-ing
A sharper angle
fewer words - more
abstract bodies contortioning
through the canvas pieces
and i don't know why this
touches me - so many
messages in this one work --
another new scene --
from the right --
swords / battles / bodies
why do i see these things
eyes just appeared
I hope this is all intentional
because otherwise my found
meaning is laughable -
shadows light canvas
wood oil black white
mixed brush stroke drip
why were these choices made
what did it?
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
I am thrilled to say that I have been accepted into the Post-MFA Creative Writing Teaching Certificate program at Antioch University in Los Angeles!
This is a low-residency program, meaning that I only have to be on campus twice in a year for ten days. I have applied for financial aid and scholarships, and have been offered a Fellowship for tuition! I am looking for help to fund travel to LA.
I've already reached out to couchsurfing.com and airbnb locations for lodging, so that will hopefully be taken care of on my own - what I need help with is airfare.
If I book today, the lowest price is about $350 round trip from Fargo, ND to Los Angeles, CA. (I've never been to LA!) So I'm not sure what the airfare will be like when I actually book on November 1.
If everyone who sees this donates one dollar ($1.00), I will be able to fund the travel to California. One dollar from each of my contacts is all I need - will you help me get there?
The Post-MFA Teaching Certificate program is going to help me learn how to effectively teach Creative Writing and English Composition classes at the college level.
I have found my passion in teaching, now I need to learn how to do it!
If I am unable to raise at least $500 before October 31, 2016, I will cancel the campaign and refund all donations - so there's no risk.
Thank you so much for helping me achieve my dream of teaching the next generation of writers.