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Fargo poet Emily Vieweg aims to ‘live and be proud’ so others are less afraid – InForum

Fargo poet Emily Vieweg aims to ‘live and be proud’ so others are less afraid – InForum

Fargo poet Emily Vieweg aims to ‘live and be proud’ so others are less afraid – InForum

FARGO — People often define their sexuality as straight, gay or a bit of both, which happens to be the case for Fargo poet Emily Vieweg.

“I’ve never identified as a ‘queer’ artist,” Vieweg said. “I’m attracted to men and women, I’ve had romantic relationships with men and women; it’s just part of who I am.

“I’ve always had a hard time identifying myself as anything other than ‘Emily Vieweg, poet and writer,’” she added.

Vieweg, 48, grew undisturbed by her attraction to all genres and instead preferred to pour her energies into writing. At the age of 9, she was already creating stories such as “The Truth About Santa Claus”.

“It’s probably in a notebook somewhere in my parents’ basement,” she said.

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Emily Vieweg works on a poem outside NDSU’s Klai Hall, Monday, June 10, 2024.

Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

Vieweg wrote poetry in high school and took a creative writing class during her first semester of college at Iowa, which is also where she connected and resonated with her gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender peers.

Before then, “I knew I found men and women attractive, but I didn’t know there was a name for it,” she said. “I didn’t realize I was part of the queer community until I got to college.”

She also digested less encouraging feedback in her writing workshop.

“The instructor basically said, ‘You can’t write.’ That’s bullshit, so I gave up writing for ten years.”

Discouraged to pursue a creative writing career and newly pregnant, Vieweg took time off to have her son, CJ, then continued her education and received a BA in psychology in 2000.

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North Dakota Human Rights Arts Festival attendees watch Emily Vieweg recite her poem “Vision,” a reflection of FMCT’s production of The Laramie Project. Emily Driscoll / The Forum

In 2004, Vieweg hired a university that offered free courses to employees. Again, the creative writing class piqued his interest.

“I took a writing workshop. It opened my eyes to constructive criticism,” Vieweg said.

The workshop experience stirred something inside her, and Vieweg began writing again, going on to earn an MFA in poetry from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri.

In 2013, she gave birth to a second child, ‘Tink’, and hit her stride as a poet. Vieweg has published two books, a full collection titled “but the flames” and has individual poems in various literary magazines.

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The cover art for Emily Vieweg’s But the Flames was made by JR Korpa.

Special for the Forum

Vieweg’s poetic style can be described as playful with dense imagery. In the sense of EE Cummings, she often rejects the limitations of traditional grammar and punctuation. She said she doesn’t often write “queer poetry,” but rather chooses to focus on description, playful word choice, and whatever inspires her at the time.

Vieweg said it sees all ads as a community.

“I don’t want to say ‘weird’ because that’s not right. We are who we are. We create what we create,” she said. “Through our art, we share with the world who we are – our art is our voice.”

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Emily Vieweg works on a poem outside NDSU’s Klai Hall, Monday, June 10, 2024.

Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum

Vieweg free time is incredibly limited and leaves little time for scheduled writing. She is the primary care provider for CJ and Tink, both on the autism spectrum, and works full-time as an assistant professor at NDSU. He wishes he had more time to devote to building a community of writers in the city — queer, straight or otherwise — though he has found a “loud and proud” group that has become a second family.

“Gay, straight, questioning, ace (asexual), male, female, nonbinary, trans — the arts community embraces us all, because we share exactly who we are through our art,” Vieweg said. “When we put our soul into our art, we are vulnerable.”

Vieweg would like to create more access to writing opportunities and collaborations in the community by offering low- or no-cost workshops, although there is little time to organize such while pursuing her MS in Sociology at NDSU.

In the meantime, he is content to write when he has time, mostly in a park somewhere, with nature as his muse. Like her confidence in her undefined sexuality, Vieweg’s loose take on the writing is something she doesn’t spend too much time ruminating on.

“The bee carrying her dead sister over my notebook in the park… there’s poetry in there. How come I hear a different song from the ceiling fan every night? What would my dry erase markers say if they could talk?” she said. “We’re all inspired by different things, we’re all connected.”

Vieweg said she believes in the artistic community and hopes that she and other queer artists will live and be proud so others will be less afraid.

“I came out to my kids before I came out to my parents,” she said. “I’m raising my kids with a very open dialogue about life and acceptance, so sharing that I might be dating a man or a woman wasn’t a big deal. It’s just part of who I am.”

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization that cultivates the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit

theartspartnership.net.

Lonna Whiting

Lonna Whiting is a freelance journalist and content strategy consultant based in Fargo. She covers a wide range of topics, including local arts, health care, senior living, startups, technology and education. Whiting also writes extensively on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease for journals and publications such as Being Patient, an award-winning global news forum for dementia researchers, clinicians, patients and their care partners. Read more about Whiting’s work at lonna.co.