Broken Wing is the story of one man's love for birds and efforts to save a rusty blackbird that can't fly south for the winter. The author, David Budbill, worked closely with Cummings in order to finish the book before he died in October of this year. The publisher enlisted local artist Donald Saaf, who illustrated the pages with stunning black and white collages that bring the book to life. The book is appropriate for young adult readers and adults.
Set in the remote mountains to the north, Broken Wing is an allegorical tale about a rusty blackbird with a broken wing who can't fly and therefore is trapped in the inhospitable north country for the winter, and a man, known only as The Man Who Lives Alone in the Mountains, who lives a solitary life of nurturing attentiveness, simple kindness, and passionate emotional intensity. Broken Wing is the story of how these two different lives come together. A story of loneliness, survival, tenacity, and will, Broken Wing is also about music and race and what it is like to be a minority in a strange place. A story of the natural world and the wonder of birds' lives, and of one man's deep connection to them, Broken Wing becomes a song of praise for the cycle of the seasons and a meditation on the reality of dreams and the dreamlike quality of reality. It is also the story of one individual black man told from outside the usual stereotypes about African-American males, which is a perspective seldom seen in America literature. Told with simple, dignified prose Broken Wing takes on the timeless, mythic aura of a folktale.
In Broken Wing, David Budbill has composed a monumental love letter to the natural world, an astute and minutely observed portrait of the avian inhabitants of a mysterious hillside orchard. The Man Who Lives Alone in the Mountains, a reclusive keeper of the earth whose soul is devoted to one injured rusty blackbird, embodies a narrative voice compelled to witness, in the rhythm and brutality of the seasons, the intimate patterns of the wild creatures surrounding his home. Budbill's lyrical storytelling effortlessly transports the reader into his realm with a rare and poetic beauty.
David Budbill was an American poet and playwright, the author of eight books of poems, eight plays, a novel, a collection of short stories, a picture book for children, and dozens of essays, introductions, speeches, and book reviews. He also served as an occasional commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. His collection of narrative poems, Judevine, was published in 1991. His honors and prizes include an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from New England College in 2009, a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry in 1981, a National Endowment for the Arts Play Writing Fellowship in 1991, The Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award for Fiction in 1978, and The Vermont Arts Council's Walter Cerf Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts in 2002. David Budbill's newest book of poems, Tumbling Toward the End, was the 4th in a series of books from Copper Canyon Press. Park Songs: a Poem/Play, his most recent book was published in September of 2012. Happy Life, his most recent Copper Canyon Press book, was on the Poetry.org bestseller list for 29 weeks in 2011 and 2012. His play, Different Planet, got it's first staged reading in the summer of 2014. A Song for My Father, premiered at Lost Nation Theatre in Montpelier, Vermont, in the spring of 2010 and was produced again in 2010 at Old Castle Theatre Company in Bennington, Vermont, and was produced a third time in Salinas, California, by The Western Stage in the fall 2013. His other three Copper Canyon Press books in addition to Tumbling Toward the End, are Happy Life. While We've Still Got Feet. and Moment to Moment: Poems of a Mountain Recluse. Judevine, the play, has had 67 productions in 28 states since the early 1980s.
Donald Saaf creates collages by carefully integrating torn wallpaper, images from magazines and catalogs, and photocopies of everyday objects with his bold gouache paintings. He has illustrated such popular books as Pushkin Minds the Bundle, Flemenpeo, and Animal Music. Trained in painting at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Donald Saaf exhibits his work at the nearby Clark Gallery. He lives with his family in West Brattleboro, Vermont.