As Clean as a Bone

Catalog, Collection / Friday, May 4th, 2018

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 deft musical cadences and resonant depths, the poems in this new book answer back with a resounding YES.

Annie Lighthart, poet, author of Lantern and Iron String

From “the perspective that is 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.”

Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita

“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.

Bill Denham, 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 boy,” his poems speak with power and credibility. Time spent with As Clean as a Bone is time well spent.

Tom Hogan, poet, author of The Promise of the Trail