B.H. Fairchild grew up in West Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. While he now lives in Claremont, California, teaching poetry and creative writing at California State University, his work focuses largely on the working-class world of the midwest, the isolations of small-town life, and the possibilities of beauty and grace to be found there. Fairchild’s poetic voice was born of the struggle to reconcile his working-class, dustbowl upbringing with the world of the intellect. “I was looking for the place where I could recover the very center of my being as I had known it as a child. . . and [it] dawned on me: what I had wanted was what poetry is.”

Poetry became Fairchild’s way of seeing the world, and of recreating the grime and majesty of his father’s oil field machine shop, the weary dignity of the roustabouts and roughnecks, in what the Los Angeles Times called “workhorse narratives suffused with tenderness and elegiac music.” He is in touch, writes Gerald Stern, “with that America we almost forgot – melancholy, dream-ridden, wistful, ghost-like.” Or, as Richard Howard observed, “With resonances evocative of Sherwood Anderson, of E.A.Robinson, and letterly of James Wright and Richard Hugo, this art of Fairchild’s…enriches the tragic theme of the American loneliness.”

Fairchild is the author of Such Holy Song, a study of William Blake, as well as four volumes of poetry, including The Arrival of the Future and The Art of the Lathe, winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award, the William Carlos Williams Award, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and a National Book Award finalist. As a National Book Award Judge’s citation exults, Fairchild “risks ugliness to find poetry – yet the ease with which the poems reveal the music in the earthbound cadence of factory life is thrilling and utterly convincing.” Other honors include Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships and the Rense Poetry Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

The universe contained within Fairchild’s most recent collection, Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest – the National Book Critics Circle Award selection for 2003 – is deep and familiar, a world that is empty, still and sad, yet on the verge of becoming. “This,” claimed The New York Times Book Review, “is the American voice at its best: confident and conflicted, celebratory and melancholic.”


Poems by B.H. Fairchild

Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest

Excerpt of Beauty

Hearing Parker the First Time




    Poetry Center Reading:
    Fall 2003 (with Mary Koncel)