I haven’t looked at SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH in weeks. I’m beginning to wonder if that is going to be my wintertime project. That’d be fine.

I did a major hustle for A SONG FOR MY FATHER this week. I contacted 30 theatres, all places where they’ve done JUDEVINE. So far I’ve got 6 requests for scripts. Not too bad, but I hate doing this kind of thing.

I’ve written a few poems this week. That always makes me feel good, great, as a matter of fact. I feel like my week is worthwhile if I can write a poem or two during the week. I have no idea whether they’re keepers or not. That doesn’t matter. It’s the making that matters. Whether they’re keepers or not will reveal itself later.

And I actually began work on THE JUDEVINE MOUNTAIN EMAILITE #51, Part Three of the three-part Food issue. I think I’ll get it out sometime this summer.

I got back the Corrected Uncorrected Proofs for PARK SONGS this week also. They appear to be in good shape. Full speed ahead headed for a September publication date.

I’m back in the woods, now that the garden is in. I love being in the woods, running my chainsaw, splitting and stacking wood. I love those things, and the woods themselves, as much as anything.

And we went to Montreal this weekend to hear two of William Parker’s bands. Montreal is only three hours from here. One of the bands we heard was ESSENCE OF ELLINGTON. I wrote the liner notes for the CD of the big band’s concert this past January in Milan, Italy.  Both concerts were great: to hear ESSENCE OF ELLINGTON,  and also RAINING ON THE MOON and the William Parker Quartet is a rare and special treat for this gardening, woodcutting recluse.

In spite of the tarsal tunnel syndrome that makes the bottoms of my feet incredibly sore and in spite of the arthritis in my hands and right arm, it’s a good life and I’m glad and grateful to be alive.

More next week.

Sincerely, David Budbill

11 June 2012


Dear Friends,

Quite by accident this week, I came across the Wikipedia definition of poetry. Here it is:

“Poetry is a form of literary art which uses the aesthetic qualities of language to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.”

Finally I understand why I’m not a poet and most poets don’t consider what I write poetry.

My goal in life and in poetry has always been to be as prosaic as possible.

More next week.

Sincerely, David Budbill
4 June 2012


Continuing this week with the “what makes a poem” question, here’s a poem, a found poem, a prose poem . . . a what?

What do you think?

That Female Ovenbird*

That female Ovenbird who nested up in the woods behind our house and who arrived here on May 25th, left Jamaica on May 8th. On the 9th she spent the night near Miami, having just made it to the main-land. She spent May 10th through the 16th resting and eating near the border of Florida and Georgia. On the 17th she was near the mid-coast of South Carolina. May 18th in western North Carolina, on the border of Virginia, not far from Brett and Diana’s house. On May 19th she was in northern Virginia, near the border of West Virginia. From May 20th through the 24th she again rested and ate in southeastern Pennsylvania, near where I lived almost 50 years ago. On May 25th she arrived here in our woods above our house. Imagine such a trip
in just 17 days!

I know all this because this particular Ovenbird had a geolocator attached to her back, which recorded her movements northward.
*from an article I read in Field Notes, Vermont Center for Ecostudies, Vol 5, Issue 1, Spring 2012

And, do you think this geolocator is an invasion of the ovenbird’s privacy? Lemme know.

More next week.

Sincerely, David Budbill
28 May 2012


I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what makes a poet and what makes a poem. The problem with a lot of poets, white American poets at least, is that they have no subject and nothing to say.

In the early 1960s I was told by a professor that W.H. Auden said if he had to choose between a young person who loved language and a young person who had something to say, he’d choose the young person who loved language, the implication clearly being that the poet who loves language is the true poet. And this, supposedly, from the author of “September 1, 1939″!

I think this misunderstanding of Auden must come from his saying, A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language.” Auden said “before anything else”, he did not say “only.”

But there has always been a tendency in poetry, white American poetry at least, to try to keep subject and any kind of political commitment out of the poem. And it’s why we are now in a sorry state where white American poetry is thought to mean anything you want it to mean and where white American poetry is free of any political commitment. I keep saying white American poetry because non-white poets have never been enslaved to this cockamamie idea. This is what drove my now dead pal Joel Oppenheimer to say, “Poetry is not about language. It’s about something!”

Thus if all you have is an interest in language, you don’t have enough to be a poet. You’ve got to have something to write about, some passion and commitment.

I’ve been thinking about this this week because I wrote a poem this week, which without its subjects, my daughter and her garden, would be nothing.


Here it is:

Seventy-Two is Not Thirty-Five


I spent seven hours yesterday at my daughter’s house

helping her expand their garden by at least ten times.

We dug up sod by the shovelful, shook off the dirt as

best we could; sod into the wheelbarrow and off to the

pile at the edge of the yard. Then all that over and over

again. Five hours total work-time, with time out for lunch

and supper. By the time I got home I knew all too well

that seventy-two is not thirty-five; I could barely move.


I got to quit earlier than Nadine. She told me I’d done

enough and that I should go get a beer and lie down on

the chaise lounge and cheer her on, which is what I did.


All this made me remember my father forty years ago

helping me with my garden. My father’s dead now, and

has been dead for many years, which is how I’ll be one

of these days too. And then Nadine will help her child,

who is not yet here, with her garden. Old Nadine, aching

and sore, will be in my empty shoes, cheering on her own.


So it goes. The wheel turns, generation after generation,

around and around. We ride for a little while, get off and

somebody else gets on. Over and over, again and again.


More next week.


Sincerely, David Budbill

21 May 2012


Dear Friends,

This week was almost entirely devoted to finishing my new website. These things take an incredible amount of time, even with a webmaster. I’m tickled, pleased, with the results. My new, redesigned and reorganized website is up now. You can visit it at: www.davidbudbill.com

I began the week by giving a reading to a group of senior citizens–not that I’m not! It was the first time I’d ever read in public from my new book PARK SONGS: A POEM/PLAY. It all went over very well, but that’s not all that surprising since all the pieces in the book are monologues or dialogues spoken by the people in the park, and thus they all have a dramatic flair which makes them easy to present.

And, since spring is here, I’m spending at least two hours a day, sometimes a lot more, out in the woods or in the garden working.

It’s about now that I begin to wonder if I’ll ever get back to work on whatever it is I’m writing; right now it is, or was, SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH. But this happens every spring during that transition from only writing and thinking about writing to doing that and working outdoors. The advantage to being as old as I am is that my work patterns are well set so I know that once this transition period is over, I’ll fall into a groove of working both at my desk and outdoors. Relax, Brother, it’ll all even out pretty soon.

I’m also wondering how much longer I want to go on with this weekly blog.

Sincerely, David Budbill
14 May 2012