Poet Madeline DeFrees

defreesYesterday my husband and I heard a wonderful interview on public radio with Madeline DeFrees, a poet who lives in Seattle. And who happens to be 89 years old. And, who happens to be a former nun. Boy, was she amazing.

DeFrees has been writing poetry since she was twelve years old. She joined the convent when she was sixteen. While she was part of the order, she took a vow of silence so she never spoke her poetry out loud. In fact, she had very little time to herself so she wrote and revised her poetry (two stanzas at a time) in her head. Once DeFrees was somewhere that she could capture her words – on an envelope, or maybe a napkin – she would begin to work on the next two stanzas. (Hearing that made me realize that using a computer with a word processor is a total and complete luxury!)

Something about her is very inspiring. Maybe it’s her life story. Maybe it’s the eight collections of poetry that she’s published. Maybe it’s her age. Above all, I suspect it’s “just” the beauty and the truth of her words.

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3 Responses to Poet Madeline DeFrees

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Liz. I think I’ll go stream the interview.

  2. And, we can all learn a lesson from this dear women: we CAN write in those miniscule snippets of time, even if writing in our heads! Thanks Liz!

  3. Brad says:

    This interview was the first in a series of talks with older artists about their work and how it has evolved as they have aged. Fay Jones’ interview would interest you as she talks about balancing her art with the demands of her children.


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