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Fairchild- Bio

09-04-09

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."

 

B.H. Fairchild was born in Houston, Texas and grew up there and in small towns in west Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. He attended the University of Kansas and University of Tulsa and now lives with his wife and daughter in Claremont, California. His awards include the Arthur Rense Poetry Prize, a NEA Fellowship in Poetry, a California Arts Grant, a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship to the Sewanee Writers Conference, a National Writers’ Union First Prize, and an AWP Anniversary Award. His poetry collections include Local Knowledge, The System of Which the Body Is One Part, and Flight. He is also the author of Such Holy Song, a study of William Blake. His poems have appeared in Southern Review, Poetry, Triquarterly, Hudson Review, Salmagundi, Sewanee Review and other journals.