Lest We Forget
With Extreme Prejudice: Lest We Forget is Emmett Wheatfall’s latest foray into observational truth-telling. This collection bears witness to the early arrival and historicity of the COVID-19 pandemic, which Wheatfall elegantly describes as The greatest hitchhiker on earth … / making its rounds (“Every Nation Under The Sun”). In poem after poem, he explores both the ongoing fear of a disease that has taken at least a million lives as well as the hope for that brighter future we all yearn for.
We were hospitalized. / I went home. / You died. With striking, stark language, Emmett Wheatfall places the reader squarely in the middle of the pandemic, with its dark ironies and injustices that unfold at a most volatile moment in recent U.S. history. In this eloquent and deeply moving collection, Wheatfall addresses the reader as a friend, I wish just the two of us, could sit / on the edge of the earth— / our legs and feet dangling freely. And as a friend equally concerned, one finds solace in these pages, which ultimately remind the reader that the lighthouse remains.
—A. Molotkov, poet, author of Synonyms for Silence
Emmett Wheatfall calls the coronavirus, The greatest hitchhiker on earth. In these poems, Wheatfall examines feelings common among many of us during this pandemic—fear, loneliness, even guilt. And he notes the irony that the mask-resisters’ slogan, liberty or death, might ultimately echo the military phrase with extreme prejudice. But for all we lose, Wheatfall writes, humanity / will go on. In the meantime, this is a poet who shares hope, encouraging readers in the midst of this pandemic to sing like Italy.
—Bette Husted, poet, author of At This Distance
Emmett Wheatfall’s timely, passionate new collection wrestles with what continues to divide us: prejudice, politics, and a pandemic. Cataloguing our country’s losses, With Extreme Prejudice: Lest We Forget is not only a keen observation of this moment in history but also a powerful call to action. In the face of fear, sorrow, and guilt, Wheatfall urges us to turn toward hope, to strive for change, to love our neighbors, and sing like Italy from our thrown-open windows, finally uniting our voices for the common good.
—Jennifer Richter, poet, author of No Acute Distress and Threshold
lives in Portland, Oregon, where he reads, writes, and performs poetry. He served in 2014 and 2016 on the nomination committee for the selection of Oregon’s Poet Laureate. www.emmettwheatfall.com