Following my attendancelast week at a B H. Fairchild poetry reading and a poetry class I thought I would take some time to offer my observations.
The reading was an enjoyable event from a strictly entertainment perspective. As a reader Fairchild is a well above average performer. His physical voice is easily soothing to the ears and quite palatable to the grasp of comprehension. Had I been a casual fan of poetry, I would have enjoyed the reading.
I did not however, attend the event with a casual interest. My engrossment in his presentation included everything from his work itself, to his delivery and possibility that his poetry hit a specific or definable theme. I came in to the reading with only a casual knowledge of his work. To the extent of his selections,
I appreciated that he offered a short intro to explain any particular nuances the he fell were not obvious to his readings.
I was able to see perhaps two points of interesting palpability emerge from his reading. Fairchilds roots have remained evident in his work. It is perhaps not surprising in the contest that as Hemingway once said, "
write what you know best." Still, it is obvious that Fairchild grew up one of those individuals that seemed destined to travel through life searching. Something I can identify with, and I suppose many that connect with poetry do. It is this very search that seemed to lead or drive (Im not sure if he felt more pushed or pulled) away from his boyhood home of Liberal, Kansas or towards something other than that home. Still, it is clear that he wanted to experience much more that what the limits of such a rural milieu could offer. He wanted more then what this lifestyle offered. To his credit, twenty years of academia have not killed those roots, but perhaps given him a stronger basis for understanding them and communicating them.
If there is a thread that seems to run through his work and ( there is) tying it up nicely, it would be his understanding of the nature of working class men and women to want. To even seek. Yes, to hope and dream. And in the end to be able to be able cherish what they have, even in the face of larger disappointments. To find some level of happiness, even if for the moment, without sacrificing desires and putting them out, like some squashing the butt of a burning cigarette in an ash tray.
The other truth that shines through is work and his presentation is that he has not lost that touch with the common man. Not even after twenty years at Cal State. Not after all his prestigious awards and The Guggenheim, NEA, Rockefeller/Bellagio fellowships. He has been able to wear the hat of a professor all the time keeping the ball cap of a common man.
Tomorrow I will post on what I came away from the workshop with.