David Budbill

1940 –

Poet, playwright, and fiction writer David Budbill was born to a streetcar driver and a minister’s daughter on June 13, 1940, in Cleveland, Ohio.

He studied philosophy and art history at Muskingum College in New Concord, Ohio, before earning his graduate degree in theology from Union Theology Seminary in New York City in 1967. He then moved to Oxford, Pennsylvania, where he taught at Lincoln University until 1969. In 1969, he moved to northern Vermont, where he taught part-time at The Stowe School before working as a writer full-time.

Budbill, who also 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, was the author of numerous poetry collections and plays, a novel, a short story collection, an opera libretto, and a children’s picture book. His most recent books of poetry are Park Songs: A Poem/Play (Exterminating Angel Press, 2012), Happy Life (Copper Canyon Press, 2011), While We’ve Still Got Feet (Copper Canyon Press, 2005), and Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse (Copper Canyon Press, 1999).

According to the New York Times review of Happy Life, “Nesting on Judevine Mountain in Vermont, where he has lived for some 40 years, David Budbill is a no-nonsense free-range sage who celebrates tomatoes in September, the whistle of a woodcock and sweet black tea and ancient Chinese poems.”

Among Budbill’s honors are a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry and the Vermont Arts Council’s 2002 Walter Cerf Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. In 2009, Budbill also received an honorary doctorate from New England College in Henniker, New Hampshire.

Budbill died on September 25, 2016. His final poetry collection, Tumbling Toward the End (Copper Canyon Press) is forthcoming in 2017.