Fairchild, B.H. 1942–
Fairchild, B.H. 1942–
(Bertram H. Fairchild, Jr.)
PERSONAL: Born October 17, 1942, in Houston, TX; son of Bertram Harry (a machinist) and Locie Marie (Swearingen) Fairchild; married Patricia Lea Gillespie (a math teacher), October 12, 1968; children: Paul, Sarah. Education: University of Kansas, B.A., 1964, M.A., 1968; University of Tulsa, Ph.D., 1975. Religion: Episcopalian. Hobbies and other interests: Running, music, Kansas basketball.
CAREER: Poet and educator. C & W Machine Works, Liberal, KS, until 1966; Hercules, Inc., Lawrence, KS, 1966–67; Kearney State College (now University of Nebraska), Kearney, NE, instructor, 1968–70; University of Tulsa, Tulsa, OK, teaching fellow, 1970–73; Southwest Texas State University, assistant professor, 1973–76; Texas Woman's University, associate professor, 1976–83; California State University, San Bernardino, professor, 1983–. The Frost Place, Franconia, NH, poet in residence, summer, 2001.
MEMBER: Texas Institute of Letters.
AWARDS, HONORS: National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, 1988–89; National Book Award finalist, 1998; Capricorn Book Award, 1996, for The Art of the Lathe: Poems manuscript; Beatrice Hawley Award, 1997, National Book Award finalist, 1998, Natalie Ornish Award, Texas Institute of Letters, 1999, Kingsley Tufts Award, 1999, William Carlos Williams Award, Poetry Society of America, 1999, PEN Center West Award, 1999, California Book Award, 1999, and Poet's Prize honorable mention, 2000, all for The Art of the Lathe: Poems; Seaton Poetry Award, 1997; Mac-Dowell Arts Colony fellowships, 1997, 1999; Guggenheim Fellowship, 1999; Rockefeller Fellowship, 2000; National Book Critics Circle Award in poetry category, 2003, and Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, 2004, both for Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest; Arthur Rense Poetry Award, American Academy of Arts and Letters.
POETRY; UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED
Such Holy Song: Music as Idea, Form, and Image in the Poetry of William Blake (literary criticism), Kent State University Press (Kent, OH), 1980.
C & W Machine Works (chapbook), Trilobite Press (Denton, TX), 1983.
Flight (chapbook), Devil's Millhopper Press (Blythewood, SC), 1985.
The Arrival of the Future (poetry), illustrated by Ross Zirkle, Swallow's Tale Press (Norcross, GA), 1985, Livingston Publishing, 1985, 2nd edition, Alice James Books (Farmington, ME), 2000.
The System of Which the Body Is One Part (chapbook), State Street Press (Brockport, NY), 1988.
Local Knowledge (essay), Quarterly Review of Literature (Princeton, NJ), 1991, reprinted, Norton (New York, NY), 2005.
The Art of the Lathe: Poems, introduction by Anthony Hecht, Alice James Books/ University of Maine (Farmington, ME), 1998.
Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest, Norton (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor of poetry and articles to periodicals, including Poetry, Southern Review, Hudson Review, TriQuarterly, Sewanee Review, Salmagundi, Threepenny Review, Prairie Schooner, Georgia Review, Thoth, Essays in Literature, Blake Studies,St. Louis Literary Supplement: A Review of Literature, Politics, and the Arts, Journal of Popular Film, Literature/Film Quarterly, Studies in American Humor, and Statements on Language and Rhetoric.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Rave On, a book of poems.
SIDELIGHTS: Author and poet B.H. Fairchild's first published book was a critical study of another poet. Such Holy Song: Music as Idea, Form, and Image in the Poetry of William Blake, which saw print in 1980, looked at the influence of music on the work of the famed late eighteenth-century poet who pioneered Romanticism and created such masterpieces as Songs of Innocence and of Experience and The Four Zoas. In fact, it is primarily these two sets of poems by Blake that Fairchild uses to assert his premise that music is supremely important to Blake's poetic creations. As Brian Wilke pointed out in the Rocky Mountain Review, Such Holy Song itself "has a kind of simple ABA sonata form." The critic explained that chapter one provides a framework for the rest of the book. The next three chapters explore "the theoretical and mythic meaning of music for Blake," "melos" in the Songs of Innocence and of Experience, and the "sound effects,… musico-dramatic form, and … musical imagery" in The Four Zoas. The last chapter sums up the book. Fairchild also asserts that melody, in Blake's creative realm, is likened "to the visual … and the poetic line,… representing the right, healthy form of imagination." In addition, the author includes information about Blake's living conditions, which included a home near "pleasure gardens" where music was frequently performed.
Critical response to Such Holy Song was generally positive. Wilke noted that the chapter dealing with The Four Zoas is "the best part of the book." Wilke particularly appreciated the explanation "of the poem's sound effects, which Fairchild brings excitingly alive." A Choice contributor noted that Fairchild explores his subject matter and proves his points "clearly and effectively," and declared the volume to be "the first direct attempt to render as accurately as possible the musicality" of Blake's poetry.
Fairchild has also published volumes of his own poetry, including 1985's The Arrival of the Future, with illustrations by Ross Zirkle, and a volume titled Local Knowledge, which a Publishers Weekly reviewer noted for its "obvious strength." His collection of poems titled The Art of the Lathe: Poems was called "thoughtful and delicately crafted" by Poetry contributor John Taylor. The reviewer went on to note: "His images haunt with a sort of silent metaphysical immobility." Vince Gotera, writing in the North American Review, commented that the author provides "impeccably precise and fresh insight."
Fairchild received wide recognition and critical praise for his volume of poetry titled Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest. Writing in Poetry, Bill Christophersen noted that the author "continues to mine the experience of growing up in various hardscrabble towns of Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas during the Fifties and Sixties." Christophersen went on to write: "Many of these poems, like their predecessors … are free verse narratives distinguished by their blue-collar settings and crisp detail." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "fans of Fairchild's comforting excursions to the familiar isolated territory of machinists won't be disappointed." In a review in the New York Times, Michael Hainey wrote: "This is the American voice at its best."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Fairchild, B.H., Such Holy Song: Music as Idea, Form, and Image in the Poetry of William Blake, Kent State University Press (Kent, OH), 1980.
Booklist, November 15, 2002, Ray Olson, review of Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest, p. 564; January 1, 2003, review of Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest, p. 791.
Choice, January, 1981, review of Such Holy Song: Music as Idea, Form, and Image in the Poetry of William Blake, p. 658.
Houston Chronicle, January 12, 2003, Robert Phillips, review of Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest, p. 21.
Hudson Review, spring, 1999, David Mason, review of The Art of the Lathe: Poems, p. 141; spring, 2001, Robert Phillips, review of The Arrival of the Future, p. 169; summer, 2004, David Mason, "Seven Poets," includes profile of author and work, p. 325.
New York Times, February 23, 2003, Michael Hainey, review of Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest, p. 24.
North American Review, September-October, 2001, Vince Gotera, review of The Art of the Lathe, p. 45.
Poetry, October, 1984, pp. 29-30; January, 2001, John Taylor, review of The Art of the Lathe, p. 276; April, 2003, Bill Christophersen, review of Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest, p. 35.
Publishers Weekly, November 4, 2002, review of Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest, p. 79; August 15, 2005, review of Local Knowledge, p. 35.
Rocky Mountain Review, Volume 35, number 2, 1981, Brian Wilke, review of Such Holy Song, pp. 165-166.
San Francisco Chronicle, July 4, 1999, review of The Art of the Lathe, p. 11.
Sewanee Review, spring, 1999, Justin Quinn, review of "The Language of Our Emotions," brief mention of author's works, p. 289.
Poetry Daily, http://www.poetrydaily.net/ (March 28, 2003), includes various reviewers' comments about Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest.