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The Art of the Lathe Paperback – January 1, 1998
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". . . James Joyce's Stephen Dedalus spoke of forging the conscience of his race in the smithy of his soul; in the dusty light of a Kansas machine shop, B.H. Fairchild has performed similar magic. -- R.S. Gwynn
"B.H. Fairchild brings sympathetic insight to the people the machinists, welders, and farmers he writes of. And like a fine novelist, he has a gift for focusing on those moments when lives constrained by psychological or economic circumstances are touched by beauty and significance." -- Timothy Steele
"With elegance and restrained subtlety, Mr. Fairchild interweaves topics that become something like musical themes, including the central theme of machine work . . .Anyone who can lay claim to the authorship of this much excellent poetry wins my unqualified and grateful admiration." -- from the introduction by Anthony Hecht
After The Storm
All The People In Hopper's Paintings
The Art Of The Lathe
The Ascension Of Ira Campbell
At The Excavation Of Liberal, Kansas
The Book Of Hours
The Death Of A Small Town
In The House Of The Latin Professor
The Invisible Man
The Machinist, Teaching His Daughter To Play The Piano
A Model Of Downtown Los Angeles, 1940
Old Men Playing Basketball
Speaking The Names
Thermoregulation In Winter Moths: 1. The Himalayas
Thermoregulation In Winter Moths: 2. Burn Ward
The Welder, Visited By The Angel Of Mercy
Work: 1. Work
Work: 2. The Body
Work: 3. The Body And The Earth
Work: 4. The System Of Which The Body Is One Part
-- Table of Poems from Poem Finder®
From the Back Cover
"Fairchild boldly plunders the territories of prose to expand the possibilities of contemporary verse. He undertakes to translate the various and splendid particularities of the novel, the memoir, and the travelogue and heighten them into the lyric mode. These fluent poems are omnivorously intelligent. The reader never knows what will come next; but, as deeply psychological in their probings as a novel, they always cohere." (Dana Gioia)
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There are ways that Fairchild expresses emotion and vulnerability that seem hesitant, which is common, but then deliver honesty, love, and power. Even teaching this to a class of intro to poetry students had each of them relate how, even though they claimed not to like the book, at least one of the poems moved them immensely.
Fairchild was born in Houston, and grew up in West Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. His upbringing very much shows in his work. This is the poetry of the blue-collar working class. This is very much the poetry of the west and of Texas. Fairchild writes mostly longer narratives and dramatic monologues (most with longish lines). Some of the best poems of his are: "Beauty" the 10 page narrative of the working man, and this poem is phenomenal. It is one of the best contemporary poems written. And in fact, the only modern day narrative that is better is Dave Mason's "In the Country I Remember", though not by much. There is also one of the best baseball poems in recent years (or maybe the best baseball poem ever), "Body and Soul", a great narrative that runs a few pages and touches on the truth of the human soul of the working man. Also of great note is "Keats" (it'll surprise you) and "Cigarettes" a poem that finally gives us a reason to smoke. Or at least an understanding. The other poems in this collection are also great, those four are just the best.
There are two signs that clued me in that this was going to be a great book (other than the finalist of the Nat'l Book Award). The first were the blurbs. R.S. Gwynn, the modern day Pope, says "[Fairchild] measures a world inhabited by those for whom life has made its meaning plain by constant subtraction...both real and mataphorical, that figure so prominently in this collection." Dana Gioia says of this collection: "Fairchild boldly plundesr the territories of prose to expand the possibilities of contemporary verse...These fluent poems are amnivorously intelligent. The reader never knows what will come next; but, as deeply psychological in their probings as a novel, they alwasy cohere." Tim Steele, one of the greatest of the modern metricists, says "Fairchild brings sympathetic insight to the people...he has a gift for focusing on those moments when lives constrained by psychological or economic circumstances are touched by beauty and significance." And Wyatt Prunty calls the poems "remarkably textured, genrous, haunting" .
And the other sign of this books importance is Anthony Hecth's introduction. No more needs to be said.