FARGO — In Emily Vieweg’s poems, there’s always a juicy kernel of knowledge that pops past the tongue and bounces down each short line, leaving the reader with a refreshed finish on the tail end of a period.
Her words are set in typical environments, like picking pomegranates in from the produce aisle. Her words shutter into existence from the clatter of a vintage typewriter, like this excerpt from "I'll Read Poems by the Pomegranates":
“lost in translation,
between time and place,
a spark blazing through.”
Vieweg is a poet and educator with published works including “Conversations with Beethoven and Bach” and a chapbook entitled “Look Where She Points.” Her new book, “but the flames,” will be published in 2021 by Finishing Line Press, an award-winning small press publisher based in Georgetown, Ky.
“My goal, as an artist and as a poet, is to make what I see in the world available to other people,” Vieweg says.
The poet teamed up with an award-winning orator, Maria Modi Tuya, to bring those words to life and streamed live to viewers on the other side of the internet as part of The Arts Partnership’s Community Supported Art program.
Watch the virtual Community Supported Art video to experience a live reading of Vieweg’s poem, “How It Used to Be.”
“She could identify with something in every single poem, which is fascinating because we come from two very different lives,” Vieweg says about the orator's initial reaction to the body of work. “I'm in my mid-40s, she's in her early 20s. I'm white, she's black. We just have different lives.”
Tasked with breathing life into Vieweg’s poetry, Modi Tuya brings her own background to the story. As a native of South Sudan, she was recognized as the North Dakota State Poetry Out Loud competition in 2018. She was also in the Top 10 finalists at the national competition in Washington, D.C.
“Poetry is life, regardless of our differences," she says. "We can have shared experiences from everyday life."
A communications student at Minnesota State University Moorhead, Modi Tuya speaks both Arabic and English and lived in Cairo, Egypt, for a small part of her childhood.
She worked for The Arts Partnership in the summer of 2019 as a communication intern, and that's where she was first introduced to Vieweg for an article she wrote on the poet.
“I think poetry is going to be a part of my life from going to college and throughout the future,” Modi Tuya says in a video interview from 2018 — something that's just as true today.
“It has played such a significant part in my life," she says. "When I was younger, I was the shyest person ever, I had no confidence — poetry was my place,” Modi says.
As a place for people to feel at home, and as a thread to a single thought, Vieweg’s poetry is an invitation to connect.
“If someone from such a different life than me can find something to connect with, that is exactly what I want my poetry to be,” Vieweg says.
This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net.