Vermont poet and playwright David Budbill, 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, died September 25, the Burlington Free Press reported. He was 76. This year's Burlington Book Festival was dedicated to Budbill, whose books include While We've Still Got Feet; Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse; Tumbling Toward the End; Judevine: The Complete Poems, 1970-1990; Happy Life; and Broken Wing.
"We have just lost a great Vermont voice, and a voice for Vermonters," said poet Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, a friend of Budbill. "People who didn't know anything about the technicalities of writing poetry, read and enjoyed his poems.... They spoke to a whole variety of people."
Tom Slayton, former editor-in-chief of Vermont Life Magazine and a longtime friend, recalled: "I guess what I'll remember most is his vitality and his wonderful sense of humor. When I first met David he had just published The Chain Saw Dance. This was back in 1976, and it described life in rural Vermont in rather raw, rough terms, but with an undertone of gentle humor. In the 1990s his work kind of shifted and he began to write in the voice of an old Chinese sage, somehow transported onto a Wolcott hillside called Judevine Mountain. He had a high reverence for real work in the real world--work using your hands. And so he personally loved working in the woods, working in his garden, and playing the shakuhachi."
From Budbill's poem "A Long and Gracious Fall":
for the snow. Ready now to come inside. Time now for
words and music, poems and shakuhachi. Time now
to light some incense, sit and stare at candlelight.