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An Ordinary Life: Poems (Hardcover)
A poet whose work is “a cause of celebration” (John Freeman, Boston Globe) reveals the extraordinary within the ordinary.
In this stirring volume, award-winning poet B. H. Fairchild seeks the ironic, haunting presence imbuing each ordinary life with beauty, power, and meaning. By turns polyphonic and deeply personal, these poems range from Kansas highways and sunbaked baseball fields to secondhand memories of a World War II foxhole. They zoom in on a welder’s truck, a Walmart on Black Friday, and a record store, where a chance encounter offers radiant kindness in the face of grief. In a suite of prose poems written in the returning persona of the machinist and philosopher Roy Eldridge Garcia, “a watcher of things,” Fairchild finds sacred meaning in domestic scenes and expansive imagined narratives. Throughout, the poet evokes the brutal beauty of the American heartland, a morning’s “sheet-metal sky” and a grandfather’s farm, with its “dusty creek, damp / only when the winter wheat was bogged / in snow.”
Elevating blue-collar work and scenes from small towns in clear-eyed, reverent poetry, Fairchild proves himself once again “the American voice at its best: confident and conflicted, celebratory and melancholic” (New York Times).
About the Author
B. H. Fairchild is the author of seven volumes of poetry, including The Blue Buick andUsher. A finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the William Carlos Williams Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Bobbitt National Prize, he lives in California.
I have long admired the work of B. H. Fairchild, since I discovered his exquisite third book,?The Art of the Lathe,?through to this newest collection,?An Ordinary Life, which is an extraordinary glimpse into the lives of those who people our world.?These are sepia narratives lit by his storyteller’s voice, still haunted by postwar America, its baseball and washing machines and linoleum, his father’s machine shop in Kansas and ‘the chrome glamour of trailer hitches,’ and the fortitude and dignity of his working people, the ones who make the world go around—I love these poems for their humor and their precise, taut, delicate diction, their fascination with metal, their shadowy small-town ambiance and their simple honesty. If we are ‘lost in the great puzzle’ of our lives, we are found here in our most unguarded moments, in our longest nights and deepest days, lifted up by this poetry’s hard-won beauty.
— Dorianne Laux, author of Only as the Day Is Long