Budbill, David

Born: June 13, 1940
Died: September 25, 2016

Ohio connection: Birth


David Budbill was born in Cleveland 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. David Budbill performed poetry: Zen Mountains-Zen Streets: A Duet for Poet and Improvised Bass was recorded with bassist William Parker and wrote the libretto, with composer Erik Nielsen, for the opera A Fleeting Animal: An Opera from Judevine.  Budbill was also creator and editor of the cyberzine “The Judeville Mountain Emailite: An On-line and On-going Journal of Politics and Opinion.” During his life, Budbill worked as a carpenter’s apprentice, short order cook, mental hospital attendant, church pastor, teacher and occasional commentator on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.

Budbill’s play Judevine is based on his book of poems Judevine: the Complete Poems, 1970-1990, published in 1991, (a revised, expanded and updated version was published in 1999). To date, the play has been produced over 60 times in 24 states; the 1990 American Conservatory Theatre Production in San Francisco, CA, won the Bay Area Critics Circle Award for Best Ensemble Performance for that year.  His other books of poetry include: Tumbling toward the End (2017), Happy Life (2011), and While We’ve Still Got Feet (2005).  The Chicago Sun Times has described Budbill’s writing as “Wrenchingly real, fiercely emotional and unexpectedly funny.”

Budbill lived in the mountains of northern Vermont with his wife, painter Lois Eby; their daughter is the poet Nadine Wolf Budbill. On September 25, 2016, Budbill died at the age of 76 from Parkinson’s disease.

Kirkus Choice Books, 1974, for Christmas Tree Farm, and c. 1976, for Snowshoe Trek to Otter Farm; Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award for fiction, 1978; Guggenheim fellowship in poetry, 1981; playwriting fellowship,  Judevine: The Complete Poems was selected as one of the best books of poems of 1991 by Booklist;  A National Endowment for the Arts Play Writing Fellowship in 1991, a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry in 1981.  In 2002 the Vermont Arts Council gave David the Walter Cerf Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts