B. H. Fairchild

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B.H. Fairchild (born 1942) is an American poet and former college professor. His most recent book is Usher (W.W. Norton, 2009), and his poems have appeared in literary journals and magazines including The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Southern Review, Poetry, TriQuarterly, The Hudson Review, Salmagundi, The Sewanee Review. His third poetry collection, The Art of the Lathe, winner of the 1997 Beatrice Hawley Award (Alice James Books, 1998), brought Fairchild's work to national prominence, garnering him a large number of awards and fellowships including the William Carlos Williams Award, Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, California Book Award, Natalie Ornish Poetry Award, PEN Center USA West Poetry Award, National Book Award (finalist), Capricorn Poetry Award,[1] and Rockefeller and Guggenheim fellowships. The book ultimately gave him international prominence, as The Way Weiser Press in England published the U.K. edition of the book. The Los Angeles Times wrote that "The Art of the Lathe by B.H. Fairchild has become a contemporary classic—a passionate example of the plain style, so finely crafted and perfectly pitched...workhorse narratives suffused with tenderness and elegiac music."[2]

Fairchild has written that a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts was vital to his career as a poet: "It's very simple: without an NEA Fellowship in 1989-90, I would not have been able to complete my second book, Local Knowledge, nor have had the necessary time to compose the core poems for The Art of the Lathe, my third book, which, I am proud to say, received the Kingsley Tufts Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award, thus bringing my work to a wider audience than the immediate members of my family and also, therefore, making future work possible."[3]

He was born in Houston, Texas, and grew up in small towns in the oil fields of Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas, later working through high school and college for his father, a lathe machinist.[4] He taught English and Creative Writing at California State University, San Bernardino [5] and Claremont Graduate University. He lives in Claremont, California with his wife, Patti, and dog, Minnie. As of 2011, it has been announced that Fairchild will teach at The University of North Texas.


Full-Length Poetry Collections

  • The Blue Buick: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2014)
  • Usher (W. W. Norton, 2009)
  • Local Knowledge (W. W. Norton, 2005, second edition)
  • Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest (W. W. Norton, 2003)
  • The Arrival of the Future (Alice James Books, 2000, second edition)
  • The Art of the Lathe (Alice James Books, 1998)
  • Local Knowledge (Quarterly Review of Literature, Princeton, NJ, 1991)
  • The Arrival of the Future (illustrated by Ross Zirkle, Swallow's Tale Press, 1985; Livingston Publishing, 1985)


  • The System of Which the Body Is One Part (State Street Press, 1988)
  • Flight (Devil's Millhopper Press, 1985)
  • C & W Machine Works (Trilobite Press, 1983)

Special Editions

  • Trilogy, with an introduction by Paul Mariani and engravings by Barry Moser. (Pennyroyal Press, 2008)

Literary Criticism

  • Such Holy Song: Music as Idea, Form, and Image in the Poetry of William Blake (Kent State University Press, 1980)

Honors and awards[edit]