David Budbill Does 'Zen' and Revives Judevine | Theater | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Seven Days needs your financial support!

David Budbill Does 'Zen' and Revives Judevine 

State of the Arts

Few poets would agree that "words have no meaning," but David Budbill isn't put off by the enigmatic slogan of Montréal's Zen Poetry Festival. In fact, the Wolcott wordsmith is a headliner at the first-ever event, which takes place this weekend. Friday night Budbill will read his "spirited and carefree mountain verse," accompanied by members of Montréal avant-garde jazzers the Murray Street Band. (His usual improv peeps, multi-instrumentalist William Parker and percussionist Hamid Drake, have a gig in Rome.) Other participants are coming from across North America and Japan.

The motive behind the fest, Budbill explains, is to raise money to move the Zen Center from singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen's house, where it's been for 15 years, into new quarters. Apparently Cohen wants his home back.

So what exactly is Zen poetry? "There needs to be some kind of Buddhist orientation or world view," Budbill offers. But "I'm no Buddhist, I'm a Taoist," he demurs. "I keep telling everybody I'm a Methodist from Ohio."

Maybe so, but he's made a reputation with a kind of plainspoken-but-elegant, nature-oriented verse that dates back to ancient China. And though he modestly refutes it, Budbill has gotten pretty good on the shakuhachi, a Japanese bamboo flute. Buddhist or no, this Vermont poet is clearly in touch with his inner Asian.

In contrast, Budbill is also known for penning Judevine, a play about the hardscrabble denizens of a small town in rural Vermont; its 1991 run here featured Rusty Dewees as the crusty Antoine, a role that launched his "Logger" persona. The work has since been performed all around the U.S. "I've been frustrated in recent years that the play is everywhere else in the country but not here in its hometown, so to speak," Budbill says. "It hasn't been in northern Vermont in 16 years."

Until now: This month Judevine was staged at Dorset Theater, and Lost Nation Theatre brings it to Montpelier April 19 - May 13. Burlington actor Ben Ashe will play Antoine. "I really believe he'll make everyone forget about Rusty," predicts Budbill. Besides, he points out, "There are all these people who've never seen Judevine - new people, younger people - and for them there's no Rusty memory."

Even as his old work is revived, though, Budbill is digging even deeper into the past for a new one: a play about a father and son - the working title is Papa. His papa? The playwright equivocates. "These things start out autobiographical," he says, "and then they go somewhere else."

The Montréal Zen Poetry Festival, March 16-18, multiple times and venues. Visit http://www.montrealzenpoetryfestival.ca or http://www.davidbudbill.com for more info.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

About The Author

Pamela Polston

Pamela Polston

Bio:
Pamela Polston is the cofounder, coeditor and associate publisher of Seven Days. In 2015, she was inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame.

Comments


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative
newsletters:

All content © 2020 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401  |  Contact Us
Website powered by Foundation