In the house where I grew up, at the end of a neighborhood in the suburbs of Michigan, my parents had a large, walk-in closet with sliding mirrors for doors. Behind those doors, my father kept an extensive and wonderful collection of CDs. On the weekend, my older brother and I would sit on the floor—boombox in front of our small, pajama’ed reflections—feeding in one disc after another. We would excitedly write down the songs we loved, and our father would burn us our very own CDs. The rock n’ roll I fell in love with started a rebellious fire inside me. All throughout elementary and middle school, I dreamt of running away. I read books about the fearless and misunderstood and scribbled angsty prose. By the time I reached high school, I was as restless as a flighty bird and after graduation, I decided to take a gap year to travel. I set out on a puddle-jumper bound for a small Caribbean island off the coast of Puerto Rico, where I lived and worked for three months. There were eight other volunteers from all over the world, and they pulled me into the traveling community I would call my family for the next four years.
During my time on the road, I worked in and backpacked through Europe and Asia. I taught English in Poland and Vietnam, learned how to run a sawmill and reorganize a retired artist’s paintings on a medieval farm in Austria, lived with a family and provided childcare in Italy, and learned hospitality skills living and working in a hostel in Thailand. I also did a two-week trek in the Himalayas. There were at least twenty other countries I explored, and I wouldn’t change that time in my life for the world. I learned so much about myself, my passions, and my breaking points. I had always loved reading, and checked books by Billy Collins, Mary Karr, Stephen King, John Steinbeck, Margaret Atwood, and Maya Angelou off my list as I roamed. I kept my Google Docs full to the brim with poems until it occurred to me I should put them all together into a manuscript. Somewhere along the way, I decided I wanted to get back into the classroom. In 2021, I was accepted into the University of Michigan, Dearborn and enrolled in an honors program. My classes were all remote due to the pandemic. Taking advantage of the situation, I took off again, this time to live in Mexico and Guatemala while studying. I also published my first poetry collection that spring and hosted some book signings around my home state (Michigan). I created a website to share updates about my projects and a Linktree to connect my social media pages, interviews, and places my book is available for purchase.
At this point in my life, all I know is that I want to work with literature and keep creating. I am thrilled to be starting this internship with Sundress so I can learn more about editing and how small publications and presses run. I can’t wait to work with other artists and writers. Currently, I’m living in a small village called St Mary. It is a picturesque place on the edge of Glacier National Park, sitting on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. This is my second Montana summer, and I love the wild freedom it offers. I spend my time reading, writing, hiking, camping, and summiting mountains. In the fall, I plan to head out into the world again with my adventurous boyfriend. We are planning on South America, but will follow the wind where it calls.
Emily DeYoung‘s first poetry collection, How the Wind Calls the Restless, won first place in the Writer’s Digest 30th Annual Self-Published Book Awards competition in 2021. The book was also reviewed by Victoria Carrubba on the Sundress Reads blog. Emily is currently working on a memoir and searching for a publisher for her second poetry manuscript.
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