Subjective Geography

By , May 18, 2019


Subjective Geography:

A Poet’s Thoughts on Life and Craft

By Madeline Defrees


$19.95 Paperback (9780899241531)
Published: June 2018
180 pages, 6 x 8.5 in.
Purchase from our distributor

This volume presents, in one piece, much of the careful and nuanced thought of one of the finest American poets of the twentieth century, and beyond: she died at the age of ninety-five in 2015. Severe, funny, mischievous, and astoundingly clear, these essays present her thinking on topics ranging from John Berryman’s ghost, to prayer, to the stages of vision and revision, to poetry as a radical act, to the essential necessity of faith. It is indeed a geography and it brings to life DeFrees’ singular and deeply affectionate sensibility.Madeline DeFrees was educated at St. Mary’s Academy in Portland, Oregon, and went on to earn a BA from Marylhurst College and an MA from the University of Oregon. She received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and published nine collections of poems, two volumes of non-fiction, and numerous essays, reviews, and short stories. A Catholic nun for many years, DeFrees taught at the College of the Holy Names in Spokane, Washington, the University of Montana, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, from which she retired in 1985. She spent most of the next thirty years in Seattle, before moving “back home,” as she thought of it, to Portland in 2010.


“What has been said of her poetry is equally true of her prose: each piece ‘is a demonstration of the principles by which DeFrees has lived her life, and we get the feeling that she is giving her life completely to each one. . . . Like Dickinson, like the saints whose lives were personal expressions of divine energy, DeFrees is acutely aware of her mortality, but what we experience above all here is a fierce celebration of life in all its difficulty.'”
-Carolyne Wright, Prairie Schooner

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