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Park Songs: A Poem/Playby David Budbill
Synopses & Reviews
A "tale of the tribe" (Ezra Pound's phrase for his own longer work), Park Songs is set during a single day in a down-and-out Midwestern city park where people from all walks of life gather. In this small green space amidst 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—and all of their voices become one great epic tale of comedy and tragedy.
Full of unexpected humor, hard-won wisdom, righteous (but sometimes 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 acceptance and community in our lives.
David Budbill has worked as a carpenter's apprentice, short order cook, day laborer, and occasional commentator on NPR's All Thing Considered. His poems can often be heard on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac and his books include the best-selling Happy Life (Copper Canyon Press) and Judevine, a collection of narrative poems that forms the basis for the play Judevine, which has been performed in twenty-two states. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Budbill 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.
"The Vermont resident Budbill (Happy Life), a regular guest on NPR, is best known for clear, sweet poems, but he is also a playwright, and his new work is first and last, as he says, 'raw material that could be a play': an array of dialogues among the vagrants, pedestrians, passers-by, and hard-luck cases of an urban park, among them 'Mr. C.' (who takes care of the park and may be a professor), 'HAAL' (Hangs Around A Lot), and Jeanie ('27 years old,' she complains, 'workin' in a diner and I'm still livin' at home... with Mom!'). In language that recalls the 1930s, the guys and the couple of ladies around the park debate how to be happy, how to get by with less, and how to make poems that feel true: 'maybe if you didn't feel so sorry for yourself all the time,' Haal explains, 'you wouldn't be so blue. Anyway, it's gonna be different for me.' Blues numbers interrupt the scenes, which otherwise progress toward halting ideas about the reasons behind all poems: 'I float on these common songs,' Mr. C. explains, 'to a place I know as home,/ which sure as hell/ ain't where you come from.'" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
One of the most readable American poets ever” (Booklist) amplifies the voices of an unsung community.
About the Author
David Budbill was born in Cleveland, Ohio and has worked as a carpenters apprentice, short order cook, Christmas tree farm day laborer, mental hospital attendant, church pastor, teacher, and occasional commentator on NPRs 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, 2011) and Judevine, a collection of narrative poems that forms the basis for the play Judevine, which has been performed in twenty-two states. He lives in the mountains of northern Vermont, where he tends his garden.
R. C. Irwin is a half-Italian, half-Irish native San Franciscan with an ironic and nostalgic view of life. He is the Photography Editor for Exterminating Angel Press and teaches at San Francisco City College when he isnt busy observing the world around him.
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