B. H. Fairchild

1942 –

Born on October 17, 1942, in Houston, Texas, the son of a lathe operator, Bertram Harry Fairchild Jr. grew up in Houston and small towns in Oklahoma, west Texas, and southwest Kansas. He earned his BA and MA at the University of Kansas and his PhD at the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma.

Fairchild has authored seven books of poetry, including An Ordinary Life 
(W. W. Norton, 2023); The Blue Buick: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2014); Usher (W. W. Norton, 2009); Local Knowledge (W. W. Norton, 2005); Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest (W. W. Norton, 2003), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the California Book Award, and the Library of Congress’s Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry; and The Art of the Lathe (Alice James Books, 1998), winner of the California Book Award, the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the Texas Institute of Letters’ Natalie Ornish Award, the PEN West Poetry Award, and the William Carlos Williams Award. He is also the author of the critical work Such Holy Song: Music as Idea, Form, and Image in the Poetry of William Blake (Kent State University Press, 1980).

Fairchild’s poems build their homes in the same quaint, small towns where Fairchild grew up and focus on the small moments of beauty, grace, and isolation that can be found in rural, working-class Midwestern life. In his review of The Blue Buick: New and Selected Poems, Mark Jarman writes,

[Fairchild’s] unique power is in leading his dead from the field of personal memory and into the living history of the poem. We have had poets like this—Randall Jarrell, James Wright, Richard Hugo—inheritors of the legacy of Robert Frost. At this time, B. H. Fairchild stands almost alone in this tradition. We are lucky to have him.

Fairchild’s honors include the Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry from the Sewanee Review, the Arthur Rense Poetry Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Prairie Schooner’s Edward Stanley Award, and the Guy Owens Award from Southern Poetry Review, as well as fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He has taught at a number of institutions, including California State University, San Bernardino; Claremont Graduate University; Seattle Pacific University; Texas Christian University; and Warren Wilson College. He currently teaches in the creative writing PhD program at the University of North Texas.