I first experienced
Emmett Wheatfall’s work at a poetry reading. It was no bar,
with none of the jazz music he often reads alongside, but at least it
was out loud. Wheatfall’s work sings best when read out loud.
His musical ear shows, as does his deep roots in blues poetry like Langston
Hughes’. More than any of the rhythms, though, or the intoxicating sounds, his
reading revealed his deep belief in poetry. In his eyes, “Poets are the secular
prophets of our day.” The magic of poetry is its ability to offer a different
worldview: people can see past their biases to another’s experience of the
world. And for Wheatfall, this belief exceeds idealism. He enacts it
throughout his newest book, Our Scarlet Blue Wounds.
I got home I sat down to read the collection, cover to cover. What struck me
most was Wheatfall’s ability to incorporate language from our broader
context, drawing from the Constitution, Ta-Nahesi Coates, and the base of
the Statue of Liberty. He also repeats his own lines, both within and across
poems. These repetitions form echoes of themselves, refrains that carry through
the diverse tones of Wheatfall’s reflections. They also echo the
blues, that ancestor of African American poetry. Wheatfall does not
work in the vogues of today. Even as he addresses contemporary issues, he
remains oriented towards a greater poetic vision. When introducing his
poems, he cited Neruda as the poet-prophet, a writer people read to see past
the divisions of politics to the truth of the world
itself. This vision of poetry lies not in the individual
poet spilling their own heart, but in the individual poet witnessing the larger
world. Our Scarlet Blue Wounds has poems witnessing the
sacrifice of soldiers, poems witnessing the aggression against
immigrants, and poems witnessing the violence against the black body.
It contains a broad and deep view of our nation at this
moment. These poems move past negativity, telling the
truths about our world in order to envision a more just future.
the reading, I went to Wheatfall to thank him for his work. When
I admitted I had not bought the book, unable to afford
it, Wheatfall pressed bills from his wallet into my hand. I
tried to say no, but Wheatfall insisted. It felt not so much a gift
as a necessity: for Wheatfall, these poems need to be shared more than
paid for; they must go out and be listened to and passed around. When I
returned from the counter with a copy of the beautiful book Fernwood Press
has printed, he signed the front page: Ana, Imagine with me!
Emmett. Indeed, Wheatfall’s is a work of deep imagining. He
invites the reader into the world as it is and the world as it could be. I am
grateful not only for the poetry itself, but for Wheatfall’s presence
as a lover of and believer in poetry. We must not forgot the potential of words
in this form. If you can, find yourself a copy of Our Scarlet Blue
Wounds and listen to the truth Wheatfall works towards. It
is a beautiful book, with the ideal image on the cover, capturing both the red
of all of our blood and the blue of the bruises we
Revolutionary belief rarely breaks as a crashing
wave, spilling smoothly through society. Wheatfall, with Our Scarlet Blue
Wounds, offers a discrete cultural reflection that operates like water’s gentle
lapping, wearing away stone. His poems grind at fossilized belief systems still
An astute poet’s language can layout emerging
cultural terrain that’s not easily accommodated by mass-media packaging, or a
challenger’s political platform. With confidence in his intimacy, Wheatfall
speaks to those of us who haven’t fully appreciated where we are. As
individuals. Or as a society.
As norms tumble down around us, this wordsmith
serves as a pathfinder. We’ve left the Age of Enlightenment that created
fertile ground for an American Revolution. With a maelstrom of tweets designed
to crash news cycles, when data transfers at the speed of light; a poet’s
pause, to distill our reality, is grounding. Fetching from history, pitting
truth against media handlers’ propaganda, Wheatfall serves as a scout for
consciousness ... setting compass points in our Age of Dizzy.
Traveling through Our Scarlet Blue Wounds is like
finding a new route to a home you’ve lived in for a decade. You may pass
through bad neighborhoods depicted with bracing reality, but readers will
likely realize they’ve been commuting on autopilot. Not only have we failed to
perceive side streets, feeding the flow of 21st-century belief; but attentive,
meditative readers will occupy their actual residential conditions with new
When a Citizen Poet speaks to you of “un-blurring,”
listen to him. Your vision of where we’re at will sharpen.
With all confidence in your continued
Roger David Hardesty
Social Justice & Civil Right Activist
To: Emmett Wheatfall <email@example.com>
Subject: Thank you!
Thank you so for coming to speak to the second
graders at our school. Since your visit, we have seen a big change in our
students. They are now so excited to learn and study the craft of poetry! Their
creativity has blossomed and it has been so fun seeing them move beyond the
realms of the standard writing practices of second grade. You left a little
magic in our classroom during your visit and now each of our students is saying
they "want to be just like Emmett!" You are such an inspiration to all
of us and we feel so blessed to have had that time with you. You have such a
gift and I am glad that Paul and Sherry encouraged me to reach out to
Our students have written thank you cards for you
and I would love to send them your way. What is a good address to send them to?
Thank you again,
Jasmine and Mary
2nd Grade Teacher (2B)
Fernwood Press – Announcement! Saturday, March
Each year, the Eric Hoffer Award presents the da Vinci Eye
to books with superior cover artwork. Cover art is judged on both content
and style. The da Vinci Eye is given in honor of the historic artist,
scientist, and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. This is an additional
distinction beneath the Eric Hoffer Award umbrella.
We received word yesterday morning that Emmett Wheatfall’s book, As Clean as a Bone, had been nominated!
Publisher, Fernwood Press
Book Review: As Clean as a Bone
From "the perspective that black," Emmett Wheatfall gives us this
collection of evocative meditations on the African American experience,
meditations "seasoned with / the salt of [his] poetics." Ranging from
a tribute to contemporary black women ("Election Evening in Alabama")
to a lamentation spoken to Langston Hughes, these are moving poems that compel
us--all of us who call ourselves American--to "...sing a new song / for
what we are now."
Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita
Emmett Wheatfall's As Clean as a Bone is a collection for both the
heart and the mind, a collection seasoned with the vital and invigorating salt
of poetry and of wisdom. This remarkable book questions history, memory,
culture. Its poems don't just talk: They wrestle with experience, they debate,
they think and play, they sing out with love and pain. "Can we sing a new
song?" Wheatfall asks. With their musical cadences and resonant depths,
the poems in this new book answer back with a resounding YES.
poet, author of Lantern and Iron String
"Do you know what I mean?" Emmett Wheatfall asks--a question he poses
in poem after poem, sometimes in agonizing and sometimes in darkly humorous
ways. Emmett calls upon us, his readers, to exercise our imaginations as we
read As Clean as a Bone, to know what he means about the black experience in
America and in the world.
poet, author of death will come
Emmett Wheatfall's latest book As Clean as a Bone is just that.
Taking his title from James Baldwin, Wheatfall has produced a work that gets to
the core of things. "I question myself," he writes, and whether his
subject is race, justice, inequality or a "little black bo." his
poems speak with power and credibility. Time spent with As Clean as a
Bone is time well spent.
poet, author of The Promise of the Trail
September 18, 2018
Husted (Bette): Learn the Stories of Oters
But because I’ve been thinking about racism, I keep
coming back to last month’s featured writer, African-American poet Emmett
Wheatfall, whose book “As Clean as a Bone” takes its title from Baldwin: “You
want to write one sentence as clean as a bone.” Wheatfall’s response to HUD
Secretary Ben Carson’s remark that “Slaves were immigrants coming to America in
pursuit of the fledgling American dream” feels bone-clean: “Show me boat
manifests listing each slave by name.”
“I’m as shattered as my slave ancestors were back
then,” Wheatfall writes. But he adds, “What was broken then is being
I hope so. I do know stories help.
Review: As Clean as a Bone
Emmett, my Nubian friend, and
the Last King of Africa (and therefore the First King of Africa): Wow! This
thematic collection of poems is a landmark along your brilliant path. I need to
reread so many and ponder them. And then I need to sit with you in that wine
bar and talk about them, about you, about the world around us. (But no
pinot gris for me; I prefer immersion in reds).
Sherry and I have been reading these aloud to each other, which is how poetry
should be experienced. You have laid bare so much of yourself. You have shined
a bright spotlight into the dark shadows cast not only by yourself but those
cast upon you.
Brother Emmett--thank you for this. This is an incredible work...
It was nice meeting you
and enjoyable listening to you perform your poetry. As Joan
mentioned, I think, when she introduced me, I am the point person for the
Oregon Poetry Collection at the University of Oregon. The collection, which was
started by the OPA at the State Library and is now housed at the UO, aspires to
offer a comprehensive representation of works by Oregon Poetry, from the
beginnings in the late 19th century to the present. I see that we do not have
any of your books in our collection and thus invite you to send us your work
for inclusion in the collection...(Basically, two copies, one archival and one
for the circulating collection, are sent to me).
Jeff Staiger, Ph.D.
Humanities Librarian (English, French, Italian, Classics & Philosophy)
University of Oregon
Review by River Roads
Reading Series (2018)
I first heard Emmett Wheatfall present as the keynote speaker at the 2017 Oregon Poetry Association conference
in Portland. I was impressed and invited him to present at the River Road
Reading Series (RRRS) here in Eugene. We are a group of Eugene authors (mostly
poets) sponsored (in kind) by the River Road Parks Department and with a small
grant from the Lane Literary Guild. We invite usually three authors, mostly
Eugenean, but sometimes a guest from afar. And so, Emmett drove down from
Portland to present.
His reading was inspiring, theatrical, creative, and a great pleasure to
experience. The audience was at first skeptical, mostly middle and older aged,
white, middle-class poets, not used to such a big, boisterous, bold,
and yes, black, personality. But they soon were taken in by his
honest heartfelt poetry, his enthusiasm, intelligence and charismatic
personality. Emmett's reading was a grand success.
I think Emmett could enrapture most any audience when given the
chance, but especially, to my mind, he ought to be giving presentations in our
schools. His accessible and yet intelligent style could introduce young people
to poetry in a way that might leave them with a lifelong desire to read, write
and create. In our present racially divided world, as a black poet, his
presence would inspire black youth to feel pride in their blackness,
a self-respect often denied them, I fear, while giving white youth as
well a black adult to look up to, and giving all youth, of whatever culture or
color, a role model worth following.
And so, thank you, Emmett, for coming our way. I'm glad the sun was
shining for you, although, I can't really take any credit for that!
... Yes, but I'm not so
sure that all the "bigger, blacker guys" could have so quickly
"crossed over" and reached the ever so sedate, ever so white audience
we had that afternoon. You did something special.
My very best,
Review by Conversations with Writers (2018)
Thank you so much for your resoundingly successful presentation at
Conversations with Writers last month. Everyone was blown away by your wealth
of knowledge, your exuberant reading style, and your lovely poetry. Here,
finally, is the write-up I promised you.
Emmett Wheatfall is a poet who has it all, musicality, voice,
passion and above all knowledge of his subject. When Emmett presented on
February 26, 2018, at Conversation with Writers our audience of
dedicated poets and writers was enthralled. His presentation was highlighted
with many examples of his own poetry that he was gracious enough to share with
us. Through exploring these poems we were encouraged to discover the way he
hooks the reader into deeper engagement with the poet’s tools of repetition,
alliteration, personification, and metaphor.
Emmett likens his honing of the craft of poetry to “The Whittling
of Sticks.” He declares, “It’s in the GRIND, ENDURANCE, and the never taking
‘NO’ for an answer that the writer finds perfection.” After his spirited
discussion, we were presented with a writing prompt of
three streams of consciousness paragraphs. Eventually, we
rearranged, condensed and developed these paragraphs into poetry. As
a group, we felt energized and elated by our results.
By the end of our two-hour session—over far too quickly for most
of us—we were happy to have been prompted along the path of self-discovery.
Thank you, Emmett, for your inspiring lessons.
Director of Conversations with Writers
Peterson Entertainment, LLC wishes everyone a safe and happy Martin Luther King
Over the years, we've (Emmett
and I) made and collaborated on a lot of music, events, and special
occasions. This is not the kind of company that pushes our religious views, or
politics, or views on anyone.
We do support our artists in
their views and help them make statements with their music. Sometimes they are
powerful and lasting statements.
One such track is "Miles
to Go" from Emmett Wheatfall. Emmett has become a poetic force in the
Pacific NW. We have collaborated together for several recordings and
made great music. This track comes from the recording "Them Poetry
Blues" for which we received a grant from the Regional Arts and Culture
Council of Portland, OR. It features the some of the greatest blues players in
the NW: Peter Damman on guitar, "King" Louis Pain on organ, Carlton
Jackson on drums, and late, great Jim Miller on Bass. As we were in
the booth hearing this being laid down, Dennis Carter (engineer) and I were
both speechless as we knew we got something special, meaningful, and timeless.
Please take a moment to reflect
on Emmett's message over this very special American holiday. Share and tag your
friends if it speaks to you. Feel free to post your thoughts below.
Peterson Entertainment Llc -
January 15, 2018
Emmett Wheatfall as Langston
Hughes - Dead Poets Poetry Reading: November 4, 2017
"What happens to a dream
deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?"
Lately, we have all been
wondering, and we talked about this as we prepared the refreshments table in
the foyer and the sound in the auditorium. Langston Hughes himself
arrived fresh out of the Harlem Renaissance, and seeing that he was early, sat
down at the grand piano and tuned up the room.
The event was
the Silverton Poetry Association's 27th Dead Poets Reading. The
tradition is that the reader dresses and speaks as the dearly departed poet did
in life, and for this couple of hours he or she is that
poet. And so in the contemplative space designed by Alvar Aalto in the
Mount Angel Abbey Library, Emmett Wheatfall shook the hands of poets Alejandra
Pizarnik and Matsuo Bashōand introduced himself as "Langston Hughes, just off the
On stage, the poet pulled us
into the mostly rocky and sometimes fabulous life he lived. The poetry
made the distance from 1930s America fall away.
And who are you that draws your veil across the
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
The booming blues in his voice
engaged and moved us, right down to that question, nearly whispered: "Or
does it explode?"
Review by Vere McCarty
Silverton Poetry Association
OPA Conference: October 13th,
2017 at University Place Hotel, Portland
Emmett Wheatfall keynote
address: Can Poets Change the World?
It was a magical start to our
cherished annual conference in a time when many people feel hopeless and
helpless, Emmett reminded us of our power. As poets, he told us, we possess the
ability to connect with others, to transfer meaning, to incite, inspire, and
reassure. Communication, after all, is what poetry is about. Communication
comes from the same root as a community. In these times, a
community is the only real protection we have: Emmett's words, and
his vibrant presence coached us all to remember what we already know:
how to communicate, how to make contact, and why it matters.
Conference attendees were asked to rank events they attended from 1
(unsatisfactory) to 5 (highly satisfactory). Emmett Wheatfall's keynote
address scored an average of 4.7 out of 5. In workshops throughout the weekend,
I heard people say: "Since Emmett Wheatfall tells us poets can change the
world..." a testament to the lasting effect of his words on our conference.
Let's hope these words remain with us all, as we go on about our business of
life and poetry.
Tiel Aisha Ansari
Oregon Poetry Association
WELCOME HOME (2017)
As promised, I will now give you my impressions of "Welcome Home"
Conceptually, this is a cohesive work. Following the young man's life after his
service in the Korean War sets a fitting tableau for the pieces included, and I
feel you set the stage nicely. One gets a clear picture of the boy-turned-man
The recurring narrative helps to tie the pieces together well. I highly enjoyed
"Cleophus" and found him to be a character I wish I knew more
about--perhaps he could be fleshed out more fully in a future piece.
(His vibe somewhat reminded me of Jim Croce's "Bad Bad, Leroy
Brown"--a real scoundrel). I wish there had been a bit more conflict in
his interaction with our protagonist, but it also showed that the young
ex-military man was not to be trifled with by a seedy never-do-well like
"Mr. Piano Man" is a fun turn that paints a picture of the young man
looking to impress Dara Denard. The developing romance keeps an appropriate
pace within the time period, which I found to be a refreshing change
from the slap-dash relationships that are portrayed in movies and TV shows
these days. (romance works best in low-gear).
I felt that the drama of Dara's sudden death in childbirth seemed a bit
rushed--there wasn't much prelude and it was basically dropped in our
laps. It also seemed that our hero lacked a sort of rage and denial that one
would expect from a person in that situation (i.e. there should have been the
5-Step progression typical when dealing with death: denial, anger, bargaining,
depression, and acceptance).
I appreciate the nods you gave not only to Pablo Neruda but to your
own works in "To the Memories"--a nice touch for fans of your work.
"Brown People Were Here" was a fun in conclusion--I have to give
kudos to the pianist James Blackburn for this cut, as well as his other work. I
really liked how he took the innate syncopation of "I Dream at Night"
and turned it into a musical phrase to match.
All in all, this definitely one of your best works. Its theme is solid and
comprehensive, taking the listener on a personal journey in the young man's
I must also mention the progression I've seen your "brand" as an
artist. The new logo gives you that "professional" feel, and I hope
you'll continue to include it in your future works.
It has been my pleasure to both assist and read/hear your poetry over the
years. I hope my input and opinions have been helpful to you. I recognize in
you the true soul of a poet, and I'm looking forward to many more
years of experiencing the works you shall produce.
Lofton A. Emenari
Bro Emmett, I cannot begin to tell you how much this CD has affected me.
Brother, the opening poem "Welcome Home" had me crying like a baby!!!
I was overwhelmed with emotion.
Lofton A. Emenari
WHPK 88.5 FM Chicago
Hi Emmett, I wanted to share with you the response I've [been] getting from the
KHMD interview--ALL good! And, I 'm surprised at how many people heard it!...
The most common comment [about Welcome Home] was how interesting and new
this "genre" is! I totally agree! I think you could be a pioneer,
James (Jim) Blackburn
Pianist and Composer
POETRY BLUES (2013)
Peterson Entertainment – (No#)
Emmett Wheatfall is a published
poet from Portland, Oregon, with five books of poetry in print. This is his
fourth CD and the third collaboration with producer/saxophonist Noah
Peterson in putting a selection of Wheatfall’s poems to music.
As the title suggests, the
backing has a touch of the blues this time out, albeit a suave and sophisticated
blues with Peterson’s sax and Nathan Olsen’s piano to the fore on
most tracks. For the most part, Wheatfall’s vocalizing is more akin to recital
than a song, and while comparisons can be made to Omar Sharif, Oscar
Brown Jr., Mose Allison and Amiri Baraka and the dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson,
listening to this disc is a distinctive experience. Thematically, the material
ranges from Black Eyed Peas to Sunday Morning to Big
Women to what used to be called “protest songs” to, of course, poems of
love and loss. Barbara Harris adds vocal support to one track, and pianist
Janice Scroggins, who died this May at age 58, is showcased on Mr. Janice
Scroggins & Her 88 Keys. Elsewhere, the band is rounded out by
guitarist Peter Dammann, organist Lous Pain, the late bassist James Miller and
drummer Carlton Jackson, who along with Peterson and Olsen, sound equally at
ease with the seductive cress of Come Away with
Me and the Tramp-inspired riff that drives That’s What I’m Gonna
What really makes this album
special, though, is that Wheatfall tells stories that are both personal and
local, so that the listener gets to know something about the artist and his
world. In that respect, it recalls the work of earlier blues poets such as
Sleepy John Estes and Lightning Hopkins, and stand in welcome contrast to the
usual blues clichés.
Page 56 Living Blues August
2013 Issue 232 Vol. 45, #4
POETRY BLUES (2013)
Renown poet, Emmett Wheatfall
lives in Portland (Oregon).
In addition to 4 publications,
he performs his poetry on stage, records albums to feature his work. The title
of his most recent CD is pleasantly misleading. One will discover
the musical landscape to be a lot closer to jazz than blues. The musicians are
perfect, from the pianist to the saxophonist without forgetting the guitarist.
Wheatfall’s baritone timber matches very well his writing even when he weaves
in some touches of humor (That’s What I’m Gonna Do, Black Eyed Peas, and Big
Women, the only real blues tunes with the piece titled eponyme). As one would
expect of poetry, the author recites more often than he sings. This creates a
sensation of repetition on top of slower beats despite a remarkable lyrical
content: Miles to Go talks about civic duties, Alfie touches on the topic of
Serendipity, Mississippi Mixed Girl deals
with cross-racial relationships, all, topics that Mighty Mo Rodgers
would enjoy, read our article on page 16…On the edge of our spectrum, this is a
piece of work essentially for lovers of beautiful lyrical content painted on
the canvas of black music. DANIEL LÉON (Translated by PARFAIT BASSALÉ)
Emmett Wheatfall vit à Portland (Oregon).
quatre recueils publiés, il se produit sur scène et enregistre des disques pour
des lectures de ses œuvres. Le titre du présent CD s’avère toutefois trompeur
car l’environnement musical est bien plus proche du jazz que du blues. Les
musiciens sont excellents, du pianiste au saxophoniste en passant par le
guitariste, alors que la voix de baryton de Wheatfall s’adapte bien à ses
écrits même quand ils se teintent d’humour (That’s why I’m gonna do, Black eyed
peas et Big woman, seul véritable blues avec le titre éponyme). Mais,
versification propre à la poésie oblige, l’auteur récite plus souvent qu’il ne
chante, ce qui crée une sensation de répétition sur des tempos lents malgré des
textes souvent remarquables : Miles to go sur les droits civiques, Alfie sur la
sérendipité, Mississippi mixed girl sur le métissage, des thèmes qui plairaient
à Mighty Mo Rodgers, lire notre article page 16... Un peu en marge de notre
spectre, essentiellement pour amateurs de beaux textes sur fond de musiques
noires. DANIEL LÉON
Oregon Music News (OMN)
On this recording Emmett Wheatfall’s poetry is generally
presented as spoken word vocals, using many rhetorical and performance
characteristics of traditional black preaching, backed by a stellar blues band.
He occasionally sings and is joined on several numbers by vocalist Barbara
Harris. Mr. Wheatfall has recorded several albums, and I found “Them Poetry
Blues” to be his most enjoyable and interesting so far.
He's back and this time the
music is better than ever. Emmett Wheatfall has scored once again with
tremendous support from producer Noah Peterson providing an all-star blues cast
of Pacific NW musicians: Peter Dammann, James Miller, Nathan Olsen, Janice Scroggins,
Louis Pain, Carlton Jackson and Noah Peterson.
Making the leap from jazz to poetry the newest lyrical poetry release from
Emmett, "Them Poetry Blues" features stellar compositions, great
performances and down-home good vibes for everyone to enjoy.
- Music Industry News Network
Music Industry News Network
Just received a new release by
a guy out of Portland, Oregon named Emmett Wheatfall. He's a poet and the CD is
spoken word backed by music. It's called "Them Poetry Blues." Some
interesting stuff on this new release including a tribute to 1960's civil
rights leaders called "Miles To Go." One cut is called "Big
Women" (As in, "I like big women.")...
- Jazz Notes, SDPB
Radio South Dakota
Loften Emenari, WPHK 88.5
Emmett Wheatfall is a “Blues
Poet” of the first order. His brand new CD release “Them Poetry Blues”
(Peterson Entertainment) speaks the blues from beginning to end. Starting with
the plaintive acknowledgement of our ancestors and life “Never Forget” to the
soulful righteousness of “Sunday Morning” to the raw raucous “Big Women” (which
should become an instant blues hit) Wheatfall backed by an
in synch rhythm section (of keys, bass and drums) is
an in the tradition of those big city sophisticated moaners yet nails the
educated mannerisms of academia. A journey in blues, jazz, r&b
and above all a tasted of life in today’s America.
- Loften Emenari, WPHK
88.5 FM (Chicago)
Nice original tunes that are
easy to listen to. Good variety of mood. I like the instrument combination.
- Charlie Perkinson, Jazz Music Director, WVTF Radio (Virginia)
Great musicianship mixed with
entertaining lyrics/poems, sometimes humorous, sometimes deep and personal,
Husson, Operations Director – Hawaii Public Radio
The late Jim Miller, a fine
bassist, had recommended me for a spoken word project produced by saxophonist
Noah Peterson, accompanying a poet named Emmett Wheatfall. When I arrived at
the recording studio, the first track I was asked to play on had been recorded
the day before; Emmett wanted me to overdub organ on it. When
I head the track, I was concerned: it was an extremely powerful,
gospel-soaked piece, and I had brought my 34-lb Nord organ—not a Hammond B-3.
But the track was finished in no time and Emmett was very pleased, later posting
on Facebook, “The magic on this track is the MASTERFUL work of Louis Pain on
the Hammond B-3 Organ.” I guess I fooled him! But seriously: The magic on this
track is Emmett Wheatfall; the rest of us (Nathan Olsen, Carlton Jackson,
& Jim Miller) just hopped aboard his “gospel train.”
-Louis Pain, (aka King
Louie) Hammond B-3 Organist – Album: Them Poetry Blues (2013)
letter addressed to Noah Peterson of Peterson Entertainment LLC.
I am the publisher of Wine and Jazz magazine. For many years I have enjoyed
poetry. Your company sent me Emmett Wheatfall’s CD “When I Was Young”
earlier this year. It is a very unique record that I like tremendously. Because
of this, I featured this record in my
just-released November (2010) issue of Wine and Jazz magazine as a
pairing with a wine. If you would like a few copies of Wine and Jazz magazine,
please advise where to send.
I am not kidding when I say I
tremendously like “When I Was Young.” I thought perhaps you would mail another
CD to one of my writers who resides in the state of Washington, Baldwin
“Smitty” Smith. Smitty wrote the cover interview of Esperanza Spalding in my
November magazine. If so, please advise and I will email you his mailing
address. Thank you,
- Mike Nordskog, Publisher Wine and Jazz
Wheatfall has the unusual distinction of performing poetry at Jimmy Mak’s, a
club known for bringing in top-notch jazz musicians – not poets. His appearance
with this collection of musicians proves that the distinction may be
irrelevant. He speaks with the phrasing similar to a saxophone player, savoring
each note and syllable. His poetry explores the cultural themes of
separation and community relationships...
- Oregon Music News
Emmett Wheatfall, Jay Stapleton
[SPOKEN WORD] Portland's own Emmett Wheatfall has quite a
voice—rich and deep, half-jiving and half-poetic, fatherly and stern—and that
voice is the focus of his new disc When I Was
Young. Sometimes he's touching ("When I Was Young"), sometimes funny
("Dance With Me," where he goes South of the Border...geographically
and, if Wheatfall's plotting works out, perhaps sexually) and sometimes
street-smart (the entirely un-P.C. "I Know You Tough and All That").
It's unpretentious street poetry, sometimes acapella and sometimes
backed by Andre St. James and his trio. Tonight's CD release is a split with
Jay Stapleton's group, which releases its funky organ-and-guitar-fueled debut,
Upshot, tonight. CASEY JARMAN. 8 pm. Jimmy Mak's, 221 NW 10th Ave.,
295-6542. $10. All ages. Map
- Willamette Week (Online
Hello, Ivories Fans. And
especially hi to the newcomers--many first-time Ivories visitors, especially
from Emmett Wheatfall's Poetry/Blues event, with the Noah Peterson Quartet.
What a night! This guy Emmett, he couldn't wait to get to the stage to start
the poem--but came from the far end of the bar, wandering amongst the tables,
his voice resonating clearly to all corners of the room. Somewhere in between a
speech and a song, but with rhyming. He brings with him a feeling of authentic
life experience, a charisma reminiscent of something between Louis Armstrong
and Martin Luther King Jr. And he didn't sing a note. But Noah's band provided
the bluesy and funky background, never overpowering, but oh so potent! We're
getting them back in the spring.
Templeton, Ivories Jazz Lounge and Restaurant Portland, Oregon
You Once, Emmett Wheatfall
In all honesty, I'm not usually a fan of poetry read to jazz. It either comes
off as hackneyed beat poetry or New Age-y treacle. But this disc by Portland
poet Wheatfall has captured my attention. His deep voice is expressive and
powerful, and his delivery is just plain cool. Using pianist Ramsey Embick as a
backdrop for his phrasing, Wheatfall recites in styles ranging from walking swing ("The Wild Woods")
to gospel-ish preaching ("I Understand You") to Latin ballads. All
the while, his earnest delivery keeps things interesting and his words engaging.
Embick is a perfect choice, due to his versatility and expert playing.
Saxophonist Noah Peterson provides the backing on a couple of tunes, adding an
urban honk to Wheatfall's punchy poetry. The one that goes nearly over the
sappy line is "I Loved You Once," with both Embick and Peterson
playing soft and pretty behind a love poem. Luckily, Wheatfall's words are
smart enough to keep metaphors above the basal love meanings. I wish they had
included the poetry in the sparse liner notes, but for fans of poetry and jazz,
this is one of the better combos I've heard.
2011, Peterson Entertainment,
- Jazz Society of
Oregon, (Kyle O'Brien)
Emmett Wheatfall's "I
Too Am a Slave" is a poem crafted from the depths of despair, from the
discovery that he shared a last name with an ancestor's slave-master... and yet
within that despair are sown the seeds of redemption. An emotional
tour-de-force that evokes Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, that marks - to my
mind - the emergence of a new, unique and authentic voice.
- Samuel Peralta, An Award Winning Canadian Poet
An Open Letter from BaseRoots Theatre Company
...My Soul Grown Deep celebrates the breathing heart within these poems.
We want to open them up, play, delve, re-envision and put them back together
again. We rejoice that these poems reveal specific aspects of humanity in order
to communicate and commiserate with all humanity. By the way, Emmett,
we're closing with "Change". Ladies and Gentlemen, My Soul Grown
Deep. See you there.
- Bobby Bermea, Artistic Director BaseRoots Theatre Company
teacher, I read and teach English poetry and appreciate it but my favorite
poetry mirrors my experiences. Lastly, I really like Emmett
Wheatfall’s poetry. When one thinks of his or favorite poets, it is natural to
reflect upon persons whom one discovers in textbooks; but I am drawn to
Wheatfall’s work. Of the modern-day poets, he is among my favorite
and I model some of my poetry after his work. I want to capture the essence of
a moment in word. Wheatfall is a master at making the mundane loving
and unforgettable. He is also a tireless student of poetry. It is because of
him that I want to devote more time to writing in poetic form.
- Michelle Hudson, Team Poetry
Interview February 14, 2011
Reviews for "We Think We Know"
Emmett Wheatfall’s philosophical curiosity reflects the openness of a true
seeker. Unquestionably rooted in the tangible, his poems invite us to consider
the meaning hidden in everyday objects and occurrences. His sense of wonder
encourages us to take another look at the world around us, to wander further
into the mystery.
The natural world becomes the stage upon which this universal drama plays out.
With Emmett’s guidance, we may rediscover our place among the “butterfly and marigold.” Though the path can seem beset by
“death and dying and sorrow,” with hope, the poet’s humble reminders will show
us the way home.
- Christopher Luna, Poet,
author, and editor
I enjoy reading your poetry.
I like your introspective nature. I like that you employ a
variety of styles, not always the same thing. I like that you're
(apparently) unafraid to try a different approach. I appreciate your
voice, both figuratively and literally. Your viewpoints show me
another side of the world, one strange yet familiar. You tackle tough,
sometimes uncomfortable topics, seeking to get to the truth of the matter - or
at least your truth of it. I admire your righteous passions as
well as the examinations of your more self-indulgent inclinations. I can
easily imagine you working on your poems, rearranging words, striking out one
word for the sake of a better one. You see the beauty around you as well
as the beauty of words, and they meld together richly in your verse. I
like to think that we are much the same, you and I, but that we are also quite
different. We love life, despite it's many flaws. And
that's just how I am, Emmett. When I find something I like, I stick with
- Eric Alder, A
Thank you so much for your
beautiful poetry Sat. night. It was amazing being behind you at the soundboard
and seeing the faces of all those people in the room as they responded to your
words. Was a moving experience. One that will be on the minds of many folks for
many moons to come…You made the night extra meaningful. With gratitude,
- Chance Wooley, Relay for Life American Cancer Society
If you are a lover of good
original poetry, of the masterful use of language and imagery, then I
suggest you get to know emmett wheatfall for yourself. His
writing is musical, spiritual, classic and yet always contemporary. Be it
romantic or philosophical, humorous or reminiscent, the words roll off your
tongue and the themes will make you smile and nod your head in agreement. His
poetic voice is a seamless bridge from “back in the day” to the day after
tomorrow and his words could only have been written by a man who has lived.
- Steven M Grant, Poet
emmett wheatfall’s talent brings out a perfect combination of
anger, tears and joy. His poetry stirs up every emotion and
encourages us to dig deep into our own thoughts and ideas about
love, life and humanity.
- Becky Due, Author
“I write to appease the creative hunger raging in my
soul.” –emmett wheatfall
"A poem written by me must stand on its own merit. If not, let it fall and
I will erect another one until it stands, then another, and
another..." –emmett wheatfall
“It's way too late in life for me to master the mastery of the great poets who
precede me; therefore, I must unmask my own.” –emmett wheatfall