I have been looking into schedules. Even when we read physics, we inquire of each least particle, What then shall I do this morning? How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.
~Annie Dillard, The Writing Life


On the first of each month,
a guest writer
how they spend the day.

A 50-bookstore event at The Norwich Bookstore in Vermont May 11, 2023


April 1, 2024: Dede Cummings


Dede Cummings’ second book of poetry, The Meeting Place, was published in March of 2020 by Salmon Poetry. This collection is grounded in a physical place—a mountain that overlooks the confluence of the West and Connecticut Rivers. From the first poem, we learn

The Algonquians called it
the meeting place.

From this place, the poems take us back to childhood, to first kisses, and to first loves. The first line of “Sisterhood” takes us to one of my favorite childhood places.

If I write of childhood, it is of closets and secrets.

In the first three lines of “For Mea,” the narrator jumps forward to having children of her own and a description of a new, deeper kind of quiet.

As I was ironing the old lace tablecloth this afternoon
in the quiet that only comes when a baby is sleeping
somewhere in the house. I thought of my Grandmother.

The collection continues with poems about husbands of thirty years and children grown and gone. Here are the last three lines of “Fledglings,” which take us below the surface of a marriage.

A bunch of new whitish eggs appear on the summer solstice,
the longest period of daylight around here, a long time
to be alone with each other and have nothing to say.

These lines from “Trail Magic” about women talking move us from our childhood closets to the great outdoors.

Our trio is fire and fury, following our ginger leader,
our restless lives abound with stories told, the unwritten code
of secrets while hiking, of women around the world telling
the same stories over and over, but we know they are all true.

With “Foraging,” we’ve been with our spouses now another ten years…

We don’t talk about us being in our sixties and how the days are longer and move very quickly, how we don’t do much together anymore but go in different directions. As I walk closer to the marsh, you continue on the path.

My favorite poem in the book is called “Attach Meaning to an Object and You’ll Be Afraid to Lose It.” I was first drawn to this poem because of the title. I have an ongoing fascination with the meaning we attach to objects. Then I loved it for the story—a woman makes her way across a room, heats coffee, sits down at a table. Then the phone rings, taking the poem, and the woman, from the present to the past.


Dede’s first poetry collection, To Look Out From, won the 2016 Homebound Publications Poetry Prize and was published in 2017.

In addition to a poet, Dede is also a publisher. Green Writers Press is a woman-owned, Vermont-based, global publisher. They aim “to publish books, eBooks, and audiobooks that will spread a message of hope and renewal” and “to build awareness to stop the global climate catastrophe.”

Dede lives in a hand-built, solar-powered home in southern Vermont. How cool is that. She’s also written these other books: Questions for the Dalai Lama, The Good Living Guide to Beekeeping,  Living with Crohn’s and Colitis Cookbook, Healing Herbs, and The Organic Composting Handbook. Plus, she’s an award-winning book designer, a public radio and print opinion commentator. And she’s married to musician and English professor, Steve Carmichael, and the mother of Sam, Emma, and Joe Carmichael.


Come back on APRIL 1st to read how DEDE CUMMINGS spends her days.