Local Knowledge: Poems

Overview

An early collection by the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Although many of the poems here unfold among the small towns, abandoned farms, and slate skies of the rural Midwest, their larger landscape is the sheer fact; geographical, psychological, metaphysical; of "absences like so many lighted windows as you walk through a strange city, wanting to fill them with imaginary lives and words and ...

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Overview

An early collection by the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Although many of the poems here unfold among the small towns, abandoned farms, and slate skies of the rural Midwest, their larger landscape is the sheer fact; geographical, psychological, metaphysical; of "absences like so many lighted windows as you walk through a strange city, wanting to fill them with imaginary lives and words and stories."

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A careful poet of understated intelligence and a chronicler of blue-collar, mid-American lives, Fairchild has risen from obscurity to big reviews and major prizes: Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest (2003) snagged the National Book Critics' Circle Award. This reissue of Fairchild's second collection (originally produced in 1991 by the now-defunct Quarterly Review of Literature) shows less range but obvious strength. A drunk remembers a childhood of "dirt farms and thin-wristed women who sang hymns," while "drill collars lie on racks and howl/ in the blunt wind," foretelling the death of a Texas oil-rig man. Laundromats, machine shops and vending machines strike notes of successive regret, and even amusements carry undertones of desolation: "At twilight baseball fields make their green cries/ of abandonment, the dust lying still on the base paths." Yet Fairchild is not always so dejected, nor is he simply reportorial: within his small towns and flat lands, he finds remarkable ideas for poems, such as "The Soliloquy of the Appliance Repairman," whose funny and moving lament fears obsolescence for all mechanical skills. The poet's prose afterword sums up his youth in "dusty oilfield towns" in West Texas and later in smalltown Kansas, where his father operated the lathes that became a symbol for Fairchild's art. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393322217
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/14/2005
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 1,372,512
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

B. H. Fairchild, the author of several acclaimed poetry collections and a recipient of Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, has been 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 teaches in the creative writing PhD program at the University of North Texas.

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Table of Contents

In Czechoslovakia 21
In a cafe near Tuba City, Arizona, beating my head against a cigarette machine 25
Language, nonsense, desire 27
There is constant movement in my head 29
Maize 31
Child and dwarf 33
In another life I encounter my father 35
The woman at the laundromat crying "mercy" 37
The machinist, teaching his daughter to play the piano 39
The march of the suicides 41
The Doppler effect 43
The Robinson Hotel 45
Toban's precision machine shop 47
Strength 49
Speaking the names 51
The last days 53
Fire and water 55
The messengers 57
Local knowledge 59
Kansas 68
Saipan 69
December, 1986 71
My mother's dreams 72
Photograph of a college football team, 1927 74
The structures of everyday life 76
Michael Blum cuts his brother's hair 78
The soliloquy of the appliance repairman 80
Sheets 81
Work 84
Angels 88
Dust storm 90
The city of God 92
West Texas 95
The drunk foreman 97
L'Attente 99
Afterword : lathework 101
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