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.
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.
Friday, July 8, 2016
Please, child, please know that I am mourning with you - I am crying with you. I do not know you, but I love you. I wish there was something we could do to bring your father back and this was all just a bad dream... I wish. We cannot do anything to bring him back, and I am so desperately sorry for your loss. Your loss is irrefutably unfair.
For what it's worth, my heart is with you, your family, your mother, and your community.
Do not try to be strong right now.
Weep, mourn, and surround yourself with people who love you and who can be strong for you.
There are hundreds of thousands of us, mourning your loss.
I wish for peace in your heart, sweet boy.
All my thoughts, heart and love to you during this time and forever more,
Emily Vieweg, Mother of Two, Fargo, ND.
Monday, May 23, 2016
I am afraid of the future in a country with Trump in the White House.
While I am afraid, I do not hate him - I despise his tactics, his views, his opinions - but I do not hate the man - I do not know the man...
Hate is a disease.
Many diseases spread through interaction with others. Hate spreads not just through speech, but also through actions.
Hate is a lack of communication.
Communication is two-way. One person speaks, the other listens, and if he does not understand, must ask questions in order to understand.
Hate is a lack of understanding.
Not just the lack of understanding, but the lack of the desire to understand. The lack of the desire to understand stems from fear... of being misunderstood, or just walked over.
All behavior is communication.
Life is full of communication, of fear, of doubt, of anger and frustration - people are angry, and anger is healthy, it means that people have voices and want to share them. The problem comes with the messages spewed because of anger - because of the frustration, and because of the pain someone has in his or her heart.
I have anger towards intolerance and injustice. I have anger towards those people who hold hatred in their hearts instead of listening and asking questions. We cannot help each other by screaming and yelling the loudest - no one can hear anyone else if everyone is screaming - understanding only comes from listening.
Unfortunately, not everyone wants to understand. I suppose I am naive, or maybe just a wishful thinker - but our future is in our own hands. I am a single mother of two children - both of whom would be considered "losers" by one of the candidates for President of the United States - simply because they were born having special needs.
My children are my world - and when someone in search for power is demeaning to my children and people like my children, I not only become angry, I become sad. I am alive because of my children. My children make me who I am, and I'll be damned if someone tells me they are not worth the air they breathe - just because they were born different.
If people in power do not listen to the public, we will not survive as a society. The USA is a laughingstock across the world. The way we are allowing our leaders to treat us is demented. Some of us are speaking out and trying to fight - but the only way to fight hatred is with love - but hate pays better. That's why hate wins.
This is shameful. What are we teaching our children by allowing the media to spin reports? When did reporting the truth become more difficult? Do people even care about the truth anymore? I doubt it - look at the popular TV these days - the days of the family sitcom have been replaced by scripted "reality" tv. These people are teaching our children that fake is better than real... that being someone else is better than being yourself... that being beautiful on the outside will get you anything you want - especially attention.
I fear for my children. My son is finishing his junior year in high school and I fear for his adulthood. My daughter is entering preschool and I fear for her childhood. I can only protect them for so long, soon they will be online and pursued by hateful individuals and stalked by celebrity and the idea of being popular...
My optimism is still there - I hope for a better future for my children, but right now I am just afraid - afraid that we are making futures impossible for our children. I do not want to have to teach my children to fear before trusting... I miss the innocence of my childhood. I wish my children could live in that time. A time when guns in school were not the norm - a time when being called to Room 202 to pick up your detention slip was not a positive - a time when kids talked to each other instead of texted... we have done this to our children... we have made it possible for our children to become plugged in...
I suppose I've rambled on enough.
Hate is a disease - it is contagious - it is dangerous - and it is here, all around us. Shoved down our throat with words, but more so with actions.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Then I find myself watching another episode of CSI Miami and it's almost 1am but I just can't seem to relax enough to go upstairs for bed.
We've been in the new house for a couple weeks now but it's still so new - still not "home" yet. Moving twice in six months - first from my shared apartment to my parents' house - then from my parents' house to my new rental home...
The kids are adjusting fine - it's me that has issues.
This is supposed to be my blog about writing - but since my work is inspired by real-life moments and feelings, this post fits.
Lounging on my new-to-me sofa last night I just kept watching TV. I wanted to move, wanted to get up and create something - but my desire for nothing overcame that.
A Desire For Nothing.
Thursday, March 24, 2016
North Carolina and how it affects my LBGTQ brothers and sisters.
What happened? The North Carolina Legislature passed a bill that would permit legal discrimination.
North Carolina has made it a law to allow discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The only protected classes recognized by the state will be race, color, national origin and biological sex.
So now what?
I personally cannot travel to North Carolina and protest for my brothers and sisters, however I urge anyone who has some vacation time coming or free time to share the outrage and horrible mistreatment of our brothers and sisters.
This means businesses in North Carolina may refuse service to anyone who is openly (or just inferred) LGBTQ. An apartment complex may turn away a family with two dads because they do not agree with the lifestyle. (That same apartment complex may also turn away a single parent family, a group of unrelated people, or a person on state assistance).
It is my understanding that this bill started with a reference to a "bathroom bill" where people must use a public restroom that aligns with a person's sex assigned at birth (hence, Men's Room for penises, Women's Room for vaginas).
If people are so worried about what is in another's pants, perhaps they must look at themselves and wonder why so many who are looking for smaller government are seeking more laws to invade privacy.
If I must, I will reassure those legislators in North Carolina that they are comfortable in the men's room. I will sit outside and ask each and every person, "Do you identify as male? Yes? Prove it. Oh, you're a man, but I can't be sure - I need you to show me. No? then you must use the women's room. Wait! If you seek to use the women's restroom you must prove that you are a woman. You will need to prove it and show me. Wait, you mean that's an invasion of your privacy? But you just passed this bill that says we may assure you are indeed male if you wish to use the male facilities. Thank you. Now you are under arrest for indecent exposure."
It seems silly, but perhaps this is the type of action that needs to take place in order to make the point.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
My eyes opened to the unequalness of our society when I was in college. Before that I noticed things like racism and hatred and bullying, but I was ignorant to things that didn't involve me at all.
In college I went to a conference in Des Moines. It was a Gay Pride event, and I was supporting a friend who has just come out to me. In my naivete I compared it to AA - how we don't go around saying, "Hi my name is Emily and I'm an alcoholic" - so why would someone announce to the world, "Hi my name is Emily and I'm gay." Being so blunt seemed like making a big deal - I didn't care if someone was gay or not, it was a non-issue for me. I didn't care, it didn't matter - you're my friend - if you're gay, straight, bi, trans, queer, black, white, asian, native american - I didn't pay attention to those things. Now that I am older (pushing 40), I see that by not noticing those things, or at least, not taking those things into consideration, that I was denying the very makeup of a person.
With the recent political upheavals happening in our country, the very lifeline of our humanity is in jeopardy. I cannot sit back and say, "that doesn't affect me." I will not sit back and say, "well he's just being a jerk."
What is happening is wrong. Hatred is being spewed between families, we are in the midst of a great disaster - our melting pot is going to boil over and everyone must take a stand.
People say that "those foreigners are taking away our jobs."
Not quite - the business owners are sending our jobs overseas for monetary gain. A worker in the US must earn at least minimum wage. Send the same job to a developing country, the wage is drastically reduced - thus making more money for the company. Don't like it? Boycott the company - do not blame people in another country for stealing anything - They didn't take it. It was offered to them.
People say that "whites don't understand being black in America."
You're right, I don't. I am a white woman with two white children. I don't have to warn my son about profiling, to make sure he wears a cardigan instead of a hoodie to school, to stop immediately and put his hands up if someone yells, "YOU THERE" and don't fight it. My son is not in danger of being shot just for walking down the street in a sweatshirt and jeans.
I don't know what it's like to be called the N word and spit on and denied entrance to a restaurant just because of my skin color. I don't understand how to tame a gorgeous mane of curly hair - and I also don't know if I'm being offensive to you - if I am, please tell me so we can have a discussion and I can learn something.
People say "what do you care, you're one of THEM."
I'm one of who? The Whites? The people who invaded this land to claim it for England?
No, I'm not one of THEM. I am me. I was raised to treat every single human being with honor and dignity, regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, belief system, gender identity, sexual preference... I am pained when I hear that someone has been killed, regardless of the circumstances. I am pained when a child is disowned for being gay or bi or trans, because if one cannot be safe at home, where can they possibly be safe?
I'm not one of THEM. I am one of US.
Do I understand your struggle? No, I do not understand your struggle. I understand mine. So let's talk about your life and your struggle, because how can I know anything if you don't let me in? How can there be any kind of communication without give-and-take? I'll start...
My name is Emily.
I am a single mother of two.
My son is sixteen and my daughter is three.
I have never been married.
I was diagnosed with BiPolar at age 29.
I had my son before I finished college and he was 9 months old when I graduated.
15 years later I earned my Master of Fine Arts Degree.
I work a full time job and a part time teaching job.
Sometimes I receive child support but I have learned to not count on it.
I was sexually assaulted at 18 and self-medicated with booze.
I just opened the door.
I just shared some very intimate information.
Will you knock, enter and share with me?
Thursday, March 10, 2016
I am pleased to promote my newest poem Thoughts on an Appalachian Waltz that has been published in The Notebook #5: Women and the Land.
You can learn more about The Grassroots Women Project here.
Thoughts on an Appalachian Waltz was inspired by a piece of music, Appalachia Waltz, by Mark O'Connor. While listening to this piece of music on a random Sunday afternoon, pictures of a lifestyle came into my head and I started writing.
In my head I saw a man wandering through the fields with his scythe, standing on the top of a hill, looking across his land with tears in his eyes. I wondered what could possibly have caused this man to grieve so, in such lush countryside, and then I saw it. Across the way, near the trees at the edge of his property, was a gravestone. No names, no dates, just "loving wife and mother" etched onto the stone.
Soon his older children come, dressed in their Sunday clothes, the oldest boy carries a small grain sack with flowers sewn in. These five men carry the package down the hill to the gravesite, where I see another son digging.
As the men attempt to keep their strength, the oldest lowers the package into the freshly-dug grave. I see blonde hair peeking out.
I see geese, cows, a mule and chickens gathering at the top of the hill, as if they know someone dear is now gone.
As I sit here listening to my inspiration, I see the scene explicitly. Listen to O'Connor's work. What do you see?
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Friday, January 15, 2016
I am humbled, because I write what I explain as "simple" poetry. I see a moment in time and report what I feel. Perhaps this is not so simple - perhaps this is actually difficult or impossible and somehow my words paint the picture in a way which does not require sight.
Somehow the rays from the sun dancing across the iced-over snow not yet penetrated by boots still warm my face, and all I can say is, "Maybe that's God."
I am blessed to have found my talent, to find my muse in my children and memories, and to communicate these moments in a way everyone can understand.
Thank you, Garbanzo Literary Journal and Art Young's Good Morning.