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Brian Blanchfield

Brian Blanchfield was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1973, and raised in the central Piedmont. He earned a BA from the University of North Carolina and an MFA from Warren Wilson College.

Blanchfield is the author of A Several World (Nightboat Books, 2014), which received the 2014 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and was longlisted for the National Book Award. He is also the author of Not Even Then (University of California Press, 2004) and Proxies: Essays Near Knowing (Nightboat Books, 2016), which was named Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly and others. 

Laughlin Award judge C. S. Giscombe wrote about Blanchfield’s winning book:

Robert Herrick wrote, “Here we are all, by day; by night we’re hurl’d / By dreams, each one into a several world.”  Where Herrick’s several is implicitly separate, Brian Blanchfield’s book examines and contests commonality. That is, A Several World unsettles the world—all and several alike—by reading its associations and memberships and public languages with an unnerving exactingness. And, for all that, it’s a very finely-ranging travelogue, though not in the usual senses: “Consider the milieu durance,” Blanchfield invites as the book sets sail and then responds, in the next line, to his own invitation—“Way out there now.”

About A Several World, John Ashbery wrote, “The oneness of our physical and spiritual life has rarely been conveyed more accurately.”

Blanchfield is the recipient of a Whiting Award and a Howard Foundation Fellowship. He was a poetry editor of Fence and the founder and host of Speedway and Swan Poetry Radio on KXCI in Tucson. He teaches at the University of Idaho and in the Bennington Writing Seminars and lives in Moscow, Idaho.


Bibliography

Poetry

A Several World (Nightboat Books, 2014)
Not Even Then (University of California Press, 2004)

Prose

Proxies (Nightboat Books, 2016)

Photo credit: Samuel Ace
Photo credit: Samuel Ace

By This Poet

7

One First Try and then Another

Careful, a night set on edge 
the European tradition of virtuoso 
and the raw desire to articulate.
I pushed them both backward on the bed in the end
and each played on, one first 
try and then another.
Soft then on succession thought.

The instrument all torso is loved where are held 
fitting the flown down housemartin with a reed
or belying midway uncertainty
in tandem the hands, and acts adolescent.
A natural vaults a natural 
development, his farther back barn jacket 
American and strewn as if spare.

Thought soft the crescendo all along
saws, neither stroke inward or from the heart
except it begins unbecoming
building in roomy youth.
We have our no, libido, go.
Then all limbs arms and loudly I don't want to
play down the skillless touch. 

Edge of Water, Portage Bay, Washington

 

Standalone heron borrowing a pylon in Portage Bay

            accounts payable

according in quarter turns her head by the dial

of her beak to motion under current

                                        until certain. One of seven.

 

But the night began later.

Even after the soaring bridge hid

the assignation, the dark water passing darker

though. A grade higher, inland, on the return path

the tedium of midges lifted that hung about

kissing level.


Like we left the guild victorious.

Funny Loss of Face

Late in the last of the sun all over the wall

across the lot the bordello larks on the ivy vine

visit one another’s resting closets

like boys and men in Taiwanese baths:

anyone could be behind that leaf or must he

prefer sleep to sharing sleep, the overcome one,

flustering, not just anyone, retorts

and have him know, special again only once

the turnkey checks, before the wind top to bottom

as in a movie of itself plays the shuddering

singularity of love, selecting no one

particularly anyway, but all in las peliculas

sit deeper in their popcorn parkas down.

Everyone’s in for the night except

you who had flown all day didn’t want to fall asleep

here I was telling your neck relax your eyes

were going to wake up raw without solution

for lenses, so it was better you find

the little baths they had at home. Why it was

funny I suggested we concoct it from scratch’s hard

to say and whether one of us or which was

good about everything. When you call and

the leaves are brighter red, it’s later, nearer

the sun, and relief is that vibrant.

That you can see already where more doors

were and birds the ropey circuitry

the wall will bare is an occupancy of mine.

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