A very busy week doing everything it seemed but working on SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH.

As I said two weeks ago, now I divide my time between my desk and my gardens. I finished replacing the 2 x 8 hemlock planks that hold in my raised, asparagus bed this week. I used 4-inch lag bolts to put it together so I think it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

I’ve also spent a lot of this week working with my new webmaster on my new, and soon to be launched–later this week, I hope–website. It’s amazing how after you think you’ve got everything exactly where it goes and laid out the way you want it, you continuously find places that need to be redone. I was ready to launch this new website last week, but my webmaster, sagely, advised me to wait a week or so to find the kinks, and we’ve found plenty.

Thursday Lois and I went down to Hanover, New Hampshire, to Dartmouth, to see our friend Ying Li’s show of new paintings at the gallery at the Hood Museum, and then to have lunch with her and her husband.

We went early to see what was at the Hood. There we saw two shows one a Jackson Pollock and José Clemente Orozco show about how Orozco influenced the young Pollock, and the other a group of wonderful photographs of Vermont quarries by Edward Burtynsky. More about both shows is at:


Burtynsky is the man about whom the movie MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES was made. If you haven’t seen MANUFACTURED LANDSCAPES–


I recommend it highly. It drives home–the way nothing else I’ve ever seen can–what a destructive, consumptive life-style we rich, white, industrialized citizens of The-Countries-of-the-North live, and it does this by showing us the extent of waste and destruction our way of life has created. This waste and destruction we then pass off to the poor, non-whites of the world, the people of The-Countries-of-the-South. For more about all this see my satirical play, THINGY WORLD! at:


I also read through the Advance Uncorrected Proofs of my new book PARK SONGS: A POEM/PLAY and signed off on them. PARK SONGS: A POEM/PLAY is all monologues, dialogues and so on of people who hang out in a ratty little urban park in some city somewhere in America. There is no narrator, only the voices of the daytime inhabitants of the park.

PARK SONGS: A POEM/PLAY excites me. It’s totally different in design, presentation and content from any book I’ve ever written, although in some ways it’s a kind of urban JUDEVINE. It’s also connected to my most recent play, A SONG FOR MY FATHER,http://www.davidbudbill.com/sfmfpl.html, in that, in my mind at least, they both take place in Cleveland, Ohio, where I come from.

I will post a link to PARK SONGS: A POEM/PLAY on my website later this summer and announce its availability on my Facebook page when the book is ready, which will be late August or early September.

More next week.

Sincerely, David Budbill
7 May 2012


I didn’t get anything done this week because my dog died.

Lu Shan (Chinese for Green Mountain) was my long time, most favorite companion. I’ve never been so attached to an animal before. The emails we’ve been getting this week all say what an exuberant, friendly, good-hearted dog he was, and it’s all true. Both my wife and I are beside ourselves. We spent all Monday afternoon and evening crying and got up Tuesday–I slept 2 hours that night–and started crying again. There wasn’t a mean bone in Lu Shan’s body. He was far and away the friendliest dog anybody ever knew, kind, sweet, exuberant–wildly exuberant–and the greatest swimmer ever–and very competitive about it; he hated to have anyone swim faster than he could. There was only one friend, a young guy from Montreal, who could swim faster than Louie, and Louie and Jan were special friends. I’ve felt horrible this week, empty and out of sorts. I know this will pass, but I don’t want it to. Louie was a genuine and great Zen master, a real “mountain Buddha reincarnated in dog form” as one friend put it. He loved everyone and thing and greeted everyone, animal or human, with great enthusiasm and élan. Here’s what I sent out to Louie’s friends the night he died.


Last Thursday, April 18, when Lois took Lu Shan, our 9 year old, golden retriever, for his daily walk in the woods, she had to coax him along with treats. He was not himself. Friday, he was so sluggish he did not even get up to greet some visitors, totally unlike Lu Shan, the friendliest dog in the world. I took him to the vet. No conclusion. Saturday he seemed to be a little better, although not himself. Sunday he was worse again. All he wanted to do was lie around and his breathing was labored. Monday he was worse. He could barely get up. Monday afternoon we took him into an emergency vet hospital in South Burlington. He was panting and having serious trouble breathing. The doctor said he had a large and very aggressive tumor on his heart and the only thing to do was euthanasia. Louie was in so much pain; we did it then and there. We are grief-stricken. Louie was our all time favorite dog.

We will be getting Louie’s ashes soon. This summer, when Louie’s friends are around, we will take his ashes out to the float on Wolcott Pond where Louie loved to go–and climb a vertical ladder all by himself, by the way–and leap joyously into the air and into the pond. We will then throw Lu Shan’s ashes off the raft and into the pond.

There are too many lives in this life, too many deaths,
and no amount of thought can save us
from our grief for dying things–
not even knowing resurrection
sure and green as spring.

More next week.


Spring is here, and that means I now give up all day at my desk and turn my life, at least half the time, on days when it isn’t raining, toward gardening. I raise a huge amount of vegetables every summer and that effort starts now, early this year, way early. All of which means I spent the first three days of this week outdoors. I am NOT complaining! But I’m 72 this year and things take so much longer than they did 20 or 30 years ago. What took me three and a half days this week would have taken me a day a couple of decades ago.

Those first three and a half days this week were spent turning over my largest raised bed, my earliest ground, where I always plant the peas, two kinds, and my first long double row of spinach. I also spent some of those days indoors working on trying to organize the notes for SAMOVAR AND ZEEMAHOOLAH. Thursday, April 19th, I planted Green Arrow shell peas and Oregon Giant Snow peas and a twenty-foot, double row of long standing Bloomsdale spinach. On Friday I visited with some neighbors, wrote letters to Wendell Berry and Donald Hall and then Lois and I made a pizza. Saturday I spent the entire day outside turning over my compost pile. This is the biggest and heaviest job I do every spring. It took all day, but it’s done, and after I put a layer of last year’s finished compost on top of it, it’ll be ready to be the place I plant my cucumber starts this summer.

I’ve gone into such detail about what I did this past week, because I wanted to demonstrate how, especially now that spring is here, I do not give up the rest of my life to be a writer.

If you really don’t want to give up the rest of your life in order to write–and who would?–even though in their pomposity, that’s what so many writers say you must do–what are you to do? Well, grin and bear it, I’d say. Do as much as you can while you live your life. John Haines said to me once, “Live your life and don’t be literary about it.” Good advice! The trouble with the pompous, arrogant and unrealistic admonitions from so many writers about how you must give up everything in order to write, is: if you do that, you’ll have nothing to write about, and you’ll end up like so many American writers writing about language instead of, as joel oppenheimer said, “something.” Joel said, “Poetry is not about language, it’s about something.”

Today, Sunday–I always write my blog on Sunday–it is raining. We need rain desperately. It’s been dangerously dry here for months. I’m particularly glad I got the compost turned before the rains came. A little soaking and settling for that compost pile is just what it needs.

Sincerely, David Budbill


The last installment of this blog, if you want to call it that, was on June 16, 2011, and was titled ADVANCED COPIES HERE! Since then the book has been published and is making its way out into the world, and doing very well.


The actual publication date was sometime August. The first review, in the Los Angeles Timeswas on August 1st. To read that review go to:http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2011/08/the-reading-life-mountain-hermit-poems.html  Other reviews, blog posts, interviews, articles and quotes are available from me at: david@davidbudbill.com.


My haiku poet friend, Steve Sanfield, out in northern California let me know that HAPPY LIFE was on the Poetry Foundation best seller list, otherwise I’d never have known. I was shocked, incredulous. It started in September with HAPPY LIFE at #3, then over the weeks since then it dropped to #10, #17, #22, then back up to #21 and now it’s at #12.


Being on the poetry bestseller list means, you understand, that you sold maybe 3 copies of the book that week. This is, after all, poetry. It’s fun though to watch it jump around. To view the list, go to: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/books/contemporary


My friend Jane Hirshfield, who was just ahead of me on the best seller list with her new book—COME, THIEF—in September said, in a note, “Are you running around doing readings, as I am, or is your book sauntering into readers hands all on its own (with a little help from Garrison Keillor)? If the latter—kudos! If the former—sympathy!” The comment of a true introverted poet.


I’ve never done fewer readings from a new book. Bookstores just aren’t asking me to come read and other venues aren’t either. I’ve done a few bookstores here in Vermont and one festival and William Parker, my avant garde jazz bassist and multi-instrumentalist friend, and I just completed a mini-tour on which I read poems from HAPPY LIFE, but other than those things, I’ve never read so little from a new book.


One of the answers to Jane’s question is Garrison Keillor and THE WRITER’S ALMANAC. Keillor has read three poems from HAPPY LIFE since September 26th, thus proving what I’ve always said that THE WRITER’S ALMNAC is THE POOR POET’S OPRAH. Every time I’m on there my sales go up for a few days.


The other answer to Jane’s question is—I think, although I’ve got no way to prove it—I joined Facebook and Twitter about this time last year. I’m in touch, therefore, with a whole new audience. Facebook and Twitter must account for some of the increase in sales of this book.


Also, my publisher, Copper Canyon Press, has available on Kindle now all three of my books of poems. I’ll not know how many books were sold electronically until I get a royalty statement next May or June.


The flurry of first publication is over. I’m home and hunkered down for the winter and off to work on other projects, like a new book for a year from now called PARK SONGS.


HAPPY LIFE is going to have to make its way on its own for a while.


David Budbill

18 November 2011


Yesterday’s mail brought me two advanced copies of my new book of poems, HAPPY LIFE. It’s gorgeous, both inside and out. Valerie Brewster, the book designer, ought to get an award for this one.

Even though it is only mid-June, the publication date for the book, so far at least, remains September first. Once the books are packed for shipping at the printers, they have to go out to the distributor, Consortium, and then to bookstores around the country plus plenty to Copper Canyon Press to fill individual orders. All this will take at least six weeks, so the September first pub date is not that far ahead of schedule.

On the other hand, I think this may be the first time since Gutenberg invented the printing press that a book is actually off the presses early.

Now the hustle begins to sell this thing that now exists in the world.

As I said the last time, stay tuned.

David Budbill

16 June 2011