David Budbill was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1940 to a streetcar driver and a minister’s daughter. He is the author of seven books of poems, eight plays, a novel, a collection of short stories, a picture book for children, dozens of essays, introductions, speeches and book reviews, the libretto for an opera and is a performance poet on two CDs. He was for a time a commentator on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. To listen to those commentaries, go here
David’s new play, A Song for My Father, premiered in 2010 with two separate productions. For review excerpts, still photos, etc. go here.
In September of 2011 Copper Canyon Press published Happy Life, his third book of poems in a series.
In September of 2012, Exterminating Angel Press published PARK SONGS: A POEM/PLAY. For more, go to: http://www.davidbudbill.com/1075/coming-soon-park-songs-a-poemplay
In July of 2005 Copper Canyon Press published his second book of poems in a series called While We’ve Still Got Feet.
In September of 1999 Copper Canyon Press published the first book of poems in a series: Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse.
Garrison Keillor reads frequently from David’s poems on his National Public Radio program The Writer’s Almanac.
David tours occasionally with avant-garde bassist and composer, William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake. In 2003 the three released, Songs for a Suffering World: A Prayer for Peace, a Protest Against War. William Parker and David also released in 1999, Zen Mountains-Zen Streets: A Duet for Poet and Improvised Bass, a two-CD set of a live performance which is available on the Boxholder Records label.
In 1999 also, Chelsea Green Publishing Company published a revised, expanded and updated version of Judevine: The Complete Poems, first published in 1991.
The play Judevine, which is based on the book, has now been produced 65 times in 24 states. The 1990 American Conservatory Theatre Production in San Francisco won the Bay Area Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble Performance for that year.
David is also the creator and editor of The Judevine Mountain Emailite: a Cyberzine: an On-Line and On-Going Journal of Politics and Opinion, which is available on this website.
In 2000 David wrote the libretto for an opera, with music by composer Erik Nielsen, called A Fleeting Animal: An Opera from Judevine, which is based on two characters from the Judevine poems. A Fleeting Animal premiered in Vermont in October of 2000 to rave reviews and packed houses.
David received his first Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from New England College, in Henniker, New Hampshire, in January 2009.
Among David Budbill’s prizes and honors are: a National Endowment for the Arts Play Writing Fellowship in 1991, a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry in 1981 and The Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award for Fiction in 1978. In 2002 the Vermont Arts Council gave David the Walter Cerf Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts.
In New York City David has performed at John Zorn’s The Stone, The China Institute, Merkin Hall at Lincoln Center, The Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe, The Knitting Factory, The Great Hall at Cooper Union, The Carpathian Orthodox Church, The Orenzantz Center, among numerous other venues. He has also performed with the Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble.
The Los Angeles Daily News says that David Budbill writes “with rare honesty, affection and grace–and with language so precise and descriptive you will know immediately you’re soul-deep in something extraordinary.”
The Chicago Sun Times has described Budbill’s writing as “Wrenchingly real, fiercely emotional and unexpectedly funny.”
For an extended essay on David Budbill and his various books, refer to DAVID BUDBILL (1940-) by Nathan J. Jandl in AMERICAN WRITERS: A Collection of Literary Biographies, Jay Parini, Editor-in-Chief, SUPPLEMENT XIX: David Budbill to Bruce Weigl, Charles Scribner’s Sons, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning