What Issa Heard, Poem by David Budbill, Music by Erik Nielsen as sung at the Memorial Celebration of David’s Life and Work on June 25, 2017



A Memorial Celebration of the Life and Work of David Budbill, who passed away at his home in Montpelier on September 25, 2016, will be held at the Barre Opera House, Barre, Vermont, on Sunday, June 25, 2017, from 3 to 5 p.m.

David, who made his home in Vermont for 47 years, is the author of eight books of poems, seven plays, two novels, a collection of short stories, two picture books for children, and the libretto for an opera.  He also played musical instruments including the saxophone and the shakuhachi, and collaborated with musicians and composers.  The event at the Opera House will include the performance of poems set to music by Erik Nielsen; a scene from the opera A FLEETING ANIMAL for which David wrote the libretto and Erik Nielsen wrote the music; a performance by Rusty DeWees, the original Antoine in David’s play, JUDEVINE, and now known as “The Logger”; and a scene from JUDEVINE performed by 5 cast members from Lost Nation Theater’s recent production in Montpelier.  There will also be presentations of poems, photos and stories by family members and friends.

William Parker, New York based avant garde bassist and composer and longtime collaborator with David, will begin and end the program with the ringing of bowls, and will also perform a piece created for the Memorial titled “Requiem for Joy” for which instrumentalist Cooper-Moore and saxophonist Rob Brown are coming also from New York to join him.  David and William performed together in many venues:   around Vermont, in New York City, and, just as David was falling ill, in Milan, Italy.

This event is free and all are welcome to attend.  No advance reservations are necessary. For more information please visit: http://barreoperahouse.org/a-memorial-celebration-of-david-budbill.html.




It is with both deep joy and deep sadness that I announce to you the publication of my father’s newest book, a novel titled BROKEN WING. This book is truly beautiful, and I only wish my father was here to hold it in his hands.


Set in the remote mountains to the north, BROKEN WING is an allegorical tale about a rusty blackbird with a broken wing who can’t fly and therefore is trapped in the inhospitable north country for the winter, and a man, known only as The Man Who Lives Alone in the Mountains, who lives a solitary life of nurturing attentiveness, simple kindness, and passionate emotional intensity. BROKEN WING is the story of how these two different lives come together.


A story of loneliness, survival, tenacity, and will, BROKEN WING is also about music and race and what it is like to be a minority in a strange place. A story of the natural world and the wonder of birds’ lives, and of one man’s deep connection to them, BROKEN WING becomes a song of praise for the cycle of the seasons and a meditation on the reality of dreams and the dreamlike quality of reality. Told with simple, dignified prose BROKEN WING takes on the timeless, mythic aura of a folktale.


The best way to get a copy of BROKEN WING is through your local bookseller (who can order it if they do not have it in stock). If that is not possible, below are links for purchasing it online.


Indiebound National (Buy Local!):






Barnes & Noble:








David Budbill died peacefully at his home in the early morning hours of September 25 th with his wife of 50 years, Lois Eby, and his daughter, Nadine Wolf Budbill, by his side. A passionate lover of his family and friends, the woods, and all things human, he did not want  to leave this life but over the past three years his Progressive Supranuclear Palsy—a rare  form of Parkinson’s Disease—brought him to this moment.


David was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1940 to a streetcar driver and a minister’s daughter. His colorful life included being a track star in high school, attending Union Theological Seminary in New York City, teaching at Lincoln University (a historically Black college in Pennsylvania), moving to Northern Vermont in the late 1960s and building his own house, laboring on a Christmas tree farm, playing myriad musical instruments, working for racial and economic justice, tending a large vegetable garden, cutting his own wood, and writing a staggering amount of creative material.

He is the author of ten books of poems, seven plays, two novels, a collection of short stories, two picture books for children, and the libretto for an opera. During his prolific career David performed his work in many venues—from schools and prisons in Vermont to avant-garde performance spaces in New York City—often with William Parker and other musical collaborators. Several new books of David’s will be published posthumously, including his newest book of poems titled Tumbling Toward the End (Copper Canyon Press) and a novel titled Broken Wing (Green Writers Press). More can be learned at www.davidbudbill.com.

David is predeceased by his son Gene. He is survived by his wife, Lois, his daughter, Nadine, her partner, Mia Roethlein, and his granddaughter Riley Wolf Budbill-Roethlein who gave him much joy in the last two years of his life and the first two of hers. He is also survived by his cousins Martha Cross and Dick Miller, his brother in law and sister in law, Frank and Gayle Eby, many good friends and readers of his work, his work itself, and the woods where he loved to be.

His ashes will be returned to his favorite white pine stand in the woods at the home in Wolcott, VT, where he lived and wrote for 45 years. The family wishes to thank the wonderful team at Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice who guided us and our dedicated caregivers through this challenging time with great skill and compassion.

An event to celebrate David’s life and work is planned for 2017. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to Copper Canyon Press, his longtime publisher, or an arts or peace and justice organization of your choice.

New York Times Obituary

Boston Globe Obituary