Park Songs: A Poem/Play.

 By David Budbill

with photographs by R. C. Irwin


“David Budbill is a no-nonsense free-range sage.” —New York Times

 “One of the most readable American poets ever” —Booklist

“As accessible as a parking lot and as plain as a pair of Levi’s.”—Parnassus

“It takes a fine poet with a good ear and an open heart to express such truths.”—Vermont Public Radio

“Budbill both informs and moves. He is, in short, a delight and a comfort.”

“Fun and fascinating . . . David Budbill is a poet and playwright known for his accessibility and sense of playful humor, and those two aspects are evident in this collection.”—ForeWord Reviews

I asked a class of Intro to Poetry students, grumpy from just having turned in their first papers, to read several sections of dialogue aloud. Their moods immediately improved. They loved Park Songs’s humor, rhythmic language, and quirky characters.”—RAIN TAXI Review of Books

A “tale of the tribe” (Ezra Pound’s phrase for his own longer work), Park Songs is set in a down-and-out Midwestern park where people from all walks of life gather. In this small green space surrounded by a great gray city, the park provides a refuge for its caretaker (and resident poet), street preachers, retirees, moms, hustlers, and teenagers. Interspersed with blues songs, the community speaks through poetic monologues and conversations, while the homeless provide the introductory chorus—their collective voices becoming an epic tale of comedy and tragedy.

Full of hard-won wisdom, unexpected humor, righteous (if occasionally misplaced) anger, and sly tenderness, their stories show us how people learn to live with mistakes and make connections in an antisocial world. As the poem/play engages us in their pain and joy—and the goofy delight of being human—it makes a quietly soulful statement about desire, acceptance, and community in our lives.

Praise for Judevine (the rural precursor to Park Songs)

“Wrenchingly real, fiercely emotional and unexpectedly funny.” —Chicago Sun-Times

“At once tough and tender [and] not afraid to tell hard stories with a warm heart.”
Boston Globe

“Glows with a contagious compassion.” —Chicago Tribune

“Dramatic story-telling with rare honesty, affection and grace—and with language so precise and descriptive you will know immediately you’re soul-deep in something extraordinary.”—Los Angeles Daily News

“[A] beautifully tender combination of theatre and poetry. Budbill presents us with a vision of ourselves.” —Sarasota Herald-Tribune

 “An astonishing variety of characters. We come to care deeply about them and to see the dignity inherent in the humblest of human beings.” —Chicago Reader

About the Author and Photographer

 DAVID BUDBILL has worked as a carpenter’s apprentice, short order cook, Christmas tree farm day laborer, mental hospital attendant, church pastor, teacher, and occasional commentator on NPR’s All Thing Considered. He is also the award-winning author of twelve books of poems, six plays, a novel, a collection of short stories, an opera libretto, and a picture book for children. His books include the bestselling Happy Life (Copper Canyon Press) and Judevine, a collection of narrative poems that forms the basis for Judevine: The Play, which has been performed in twenty-two states. Budbill was born in Cleveland, Ohio and now lives in the mountains of northern Vermont.

R. C. IRWIN, whose absurdist and nostalgic work provides the set design for Park Songs, teaches at San Francisco City College.

 Listen to Garrison Keillor read poems by David Budbill on the Writer’s Almanac:


$14.95 / 112 pages / 14 b&w photographs / September 2012

Trade Paperback Original ISBN: 978-1-935259-16-9/eBook ISBN: 978-1-935259-17-6

Distributed to the trade by Consortium Book Sales and Distribution: 1-800-283-3572

Media Contact: Molly Mikolowski, (612) 728-1692,

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