Broken Wing

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 American literature. Told with simple, dignified prose Broken Wing takes on the timeless, mythic aura of a folktale.

Illustrations by Donald Saaf

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.


The Chicago Sun Times has described Budbill’s writing as “Wrenchingly real, fiercely emotional and unexpectedly funny.”

The Los Angeles Daily News says that David Budbill writes “with rare honesty, affection and grace–and with language so precise and descriptive you will know immediately you’re soul-deep in something extraordinary.”

“A rusty blackbird and The Man Who Lives Alone In The Mountains are both signature characters from the hermit-obsessed mind and heart of David Budbill. All of his life, David Budbill paid homage to the iconic poet recluses of China by importing their philosophical dignity, eccentricity, and spiritual probity into his beloved north country. Broken Wing is both a continuation of that project—and an autonomously haunting allegory. A prolific and passionate writer, a beautiful story.”
—Howard Norman, author of The Bird Artist

“This story is an allegory of sorts, examining whether being alone is automatically lonely; the role of music as a balm to the wounded soul; the spare black-and-white winter and how man and bird cope; and finally how the connection of two lives can be all that matters. Birders will love the inclusion of a species [rusty blackbird] not often seen, and will appreciate how the bird’s rarity mirrors the rarity of the Man Who Lives Alone. Highly recommended.
—Nancy Bent, Bird Watchers Digest, September/October 2017

“You need not be a bird lover or watcher to enjoy this book, but there’s a good chance you will love both birds and life more by its end.” —NY Journal of Books

About the AuthorDavidBudbillGWPauthor

David Budbill was an American poet and playwright. He was 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 and his wife, Lois Eby, and daughter Nadine, lived on a remote mountainside in the southwest corner of Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom—a place of great beauty and sometimes tough living. At the end of his life, David and his wife moved to the capital city of Montpelier, Vermont. Visit: htttp://

Broken Wing
a novel by David Budbill   |   PUB DATE: Dec. 12, 2016
5 x 8; Paperback Original; 216 pages; $19.95
ISBN: 978-0996267632 (pbk)
26 B&W Illustrations throughout. Illustrated by Donal Saaf.
Distributed by Midpoint Trade Books, Ingram’s, Baker & Taylor

Awards: Honorable Mention for Multicultural Fiction 

Foreword Reviews, a media company focusing on independently published books, announced the winners of its INDIES Book of the Year Awards during the American Library Association’s Annual Conference in Chicago. The awards recognize the best books published in 2016 from small, indie, and university presses, as well as self-published authors. “Awarding the INDIES is always the highlight of our year, when we get to honor talented authors and great books that are ordinarily overlooked by mainstream publications,” said Howard Lovy, Foreword Reviews’ executive editor. “While they don’t have major PR machine or corporate budgets, these indie publishers are passionate about what they do, take chances, and produce a wide range of thought-provoking books.”