Dede Cummings is a writer, publisher, and commentator for Vermont Public Radio. At Middlebury College, she was the recipient of the Mary Dunning Thwing Award, attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference as an undergraduate fellow. Upon graduation from college, she worked for David R. Godine, Little Brown and Company, and Shambhala Publications in Boston. In 1986, she moved to Vermont and studied with Hayden Carruth at the Bennington Writers’ Workshop. In 2013, she was a poetry contributor at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Her poetry has been published in Mademoiselle, The Lake, InQuire, Vending Machine Press, Kentucky Review, Connotation Press, Mom Egg Review, Figroot Press, Green Mountains Review, and Bloodroot Literary Magazine. She was a Discover/The Nation poetry semi-finalist and in 2016, she was awarded a writer’s grant and a partial fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. Dede was the recipient of the 2016 Homebound Publications Poetry Prize and her full length poetry book entitled To Look Out From was published in April 2017. Her second poetry collection entitled The Meeting Place is came out in spring 2020 from Salmon Poetry of Ireland. Dede lives in Vermont where she designs books and runs Green Writers Press.
Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, full scholarship, 1978 (undergraduate fellow)
Mary Dunning Thwing Award for Poetry, Middlebury College, 1979
Centrum Poetry Symposium, Poetry Contributor, 1979
Bennington Writers’ Workshop, Scholarship, 1991
Discover/The Nation, poetry semi-finalist, 1991
Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, poetry contributor, 2013
The Vermont State Poetry Broadside Contest, finalist, judged by Sydney Lea, poet laureate, 2013, for “Sky Line Lodge,” written in 1978.
The Vermont Studio Center: Partial Fellowship and Writer’s Grant for Poetry Residency, April, 2016
Homebound Publications Poetry Prize for To Look Out From, 2016
Mademoiselle Magazine: “Poem Written at Home on My Mother’s Typewriter,” 1978
Connotation Press: “Die Lügen,” 2013 (link)
Connotation Press: “Falling Grounds” and “Trephine,” 2014 (link)
Vending Machine Press: “San Juan’s,” 2015 (link)
InQUIRE: “My father told stories all the time,” 2015
The Lake: “Island Offering (for Maxine Kumin),” 2015
Kentucky Review: “Lament of the Glaciers,” January 2016 (link)
Bloodroot Literary Magazine: “The Cataract Surgeon,” May 2016 (link)
Mom Egg Review: “Day Hike,” December, 2016 (link)
Figroot Press: “Marriage,” and “The Bath,” 2017 (link)
Birchsong: Poetry Centered in Vermont, Volume II: “The Day the Tree Fell,” “Dig the Fenceposts Deep,” and “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor”
Green Mountains Review: “Putting Food By,” 2018 (link)
Dede’s Poetry Book To Look Out From:
“In To Look Out From, Dede Cummings takes good advantage of the imaginative fluidity that poetry offers. Even her poems of memory and family are driven by curiosity and enlivened by quick maneuvers and spritely turns. And she is careful never to leave the reader behind.” —Billy Collins
A bit about the book which came out in April 2017 . . . And can be ordered in hardcover or paperback at this link.
To Look Out From was published by Homebound Publications in April 2017, a year after it won their 4th Annual Homebound Publications Poetry Prize.
The collection is drawn from poems that span 30 years in a narrative of place explored through craft and form: from growing up with four sisters, to alibis for secrets, family, memory, leaving home, and a mother’s grief; through poems that take the reader deep into forests and unexpected treasures found in nature.
According to the acclaimed poet, Clarence Major:
“Dede Cummings’ poems in To Look Out From are breathtakingly vivid. Deeply felt, they often chronicle the relationship between self and the natural world, between self and others. These are New England poems that transcend New England. They are well-crafted testaments, often pastoral, to the cycles of life. At times they are elegiac and bittersweet, yet attentive in their hopefulness . . . gracefully discursive and always brilliantly paced, they are poems given to recovery and renewal. This is a book I will read over and over.”
PRAISE for TO LOOK OUT FROM:
“Dede Cummings’ poetry collection To Look Out From celebrates the profound truths of love in all its forms: love of family and friends, romantic love, love of nature and the world, of language and of the divine spark that allows us, if we choose, to love one another more than ourselves. The poems in To Look Out From are as wise and kind as they are lovely. Written with great emotional force, To Look Out From is at once deeply personal and universal in its revelations of the power of love to make our lives and the places where we live meaningful.” —Howard Frank Mosher
“Achingly beautiful, reflective and tender. The poems in this collection glimmer with courage, love, pain, and truth. Like a luminous seashell found on a cloudy morning’s beach walk, To Look Out From is a treasure.” —Megan Buchanan
“When the voice of elegy steps forward here it often ends up celebrating experiences pared down to simple pleasure by the blade of grief. The comfort of a hot cheek on an icy window pane, the revelation of the underside of leaves, obituaries that offer chronicles of untold happiness—such transformative surprises lead Dede Cummings to discover in the world ‘my prism.’ What an authentic, moving, and beautifully cadenced collection this is.” —John Elder
“Pity the poet who writes of salt ponds and claw marks on beech trees without the requisite natural-world familiarity. Better: pity her reader. There is no doubt that Dede Cummings’s hiking boots have suffered the ravages of Vermont blizzards and the indignities of losing their way in muddy New England woodstocks. Her technically beautiful, dreamy poems span many years of memory and favor the cavorting of family life. The founder of Green Writers Press and a book designer, Cummings attended Middlebury College and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.” —Foreword Reviews
I arise early morning in Vermont
Start the fire
And get the kitchen ready.
I wrap my scarf around my head
And gently around my neck.
I feel contained.
A warmth around me, halo-like, and soothing.
My mind wanders, as I clean mechanically,
Around the world
Wearing their own headscarves.
“Dede Cummings’ luminous debut is a love letter to New England, exploring the intimacies of family and landscape. Speaking as mother, daughter, sister, and lover, her poems distill emotional truths as they move elegantly from grief to rebirth. Always attuned to our planet’s fate, To Look Out From burns with compassionate intelligence and a profound sense of place.” —Diana Whitney, poet and critic, author of Wanting It
“The slim volume contains works spanning 30 years and touches on femininity, family and place. While most poems seem rooted in Vermont, Cummings takes readers as far as the site of a Nazi massacre in Berdychiv, Ukraine, or, as she calls it, Berditchev, and addresses the deathly maneuvers of Tropical Storm Irene’s raging waters in Vermont. Expect vivid encounters with local landscapes and tropes: barn owls and fiddlers and laundry lines glorified in lyric forms ranging from loosely metered couplets to rambling free verse to the occasional sonnet.” —Sadie Williams, Seven Days
See Dede’s EVENTS page here to hear her read . . .
To Look Out From by Dede Cummings
6 x 9; 92 pages
The hardcover is $24.95: ISBN is 978-1-938846-82-3
The paperback is $16.95: ISBN is 978-1-938846-83-0
To look Out From is available wherever books or direct from the publisher (link).
The Meeting Place (2020) is available at Bookshop.org, our local independent bookstore, or direct from the publisher (link).
About the Poet
Dede is a writer, publisher, and commentator for Vermont Public Radio. At Middlebury College, she was the recipient of the Mary Dunning Thwing Award, attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference as an undergraduate fellow, and studied with Hayden Carruth at the Bennington Writers’ Workshop. In 2013, she was a poetry contributor at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Her poetry has been published in Mademoiselle, The Lake, InQuire, Vending Machine Press, Kentucky Review, Connotation Press, Mom/Egg Review, Pigroot Press, Birchsong Anthology, Green Mountains Review, and Bloodroot Literary Magazine. She was a Discover/The Nation poetry semi-finalist and was awarded a writer’s grant and a partial fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center in 2016. Dede lives in Vermont where she designs books and runs the startup Green Writers Press.