This reading features poets Sharon Bryan, Laura Jensen, Anne McDuffie, and Jennifer Maier.
Subjective Geography 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.
Sharon Bryan’s most recent books are Sharp Stars and Flying Blind. She received two NEA’s for her work, and a Governor’s Award and Artist Trust grant from the State of Washington. She is on the faculty of the Lesley low-residency MFA in Creative Writing in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Jennifer Maier’s work has appeared in a variety of print, online, and broadcast media, including Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, Plume, Image, American Poet, and The Writer’s Almanac. Her first collection, Dark Alphabet (2006) won the Crab Orchard Review First Book Award and was a finalist for the 2008 Poets Prize. Her second volume, Now, Now, was published in 2013 by the University of Pittsburgh Press. A third collection. These Bodies are Not Our Own, is nearing completion. She works as a professor of English and Writer in Residence at Seattle Pacific University and is an associate editor at IMAGE journal.
Anne McDuffie writes poetry, essays and reviews. She’s been Madeline DeFrees’ literary executor since 2007 and edited two collections of her work: Subjective Geography: A Poet’s Thoughts on Life and Craft (Lynx House Press, 2018), and Where the Horse Takes Wing: The Uncollected Poems of Madeline DeFrees, which is forthcoming in 2019 from Two Sylvias Press.
Laura Jensen first met Madeline Defrees in Montana when Laura visited Missoula to read poems in 1977. Essays both both poets appeared in Northwest Variety: Essays by Fourteen Regional Poets in 1987. Laura Jensen published chapbooks and three full-length books of poems in the 1970s and 1980s: Bad Boats, was from Ecco Press in New York City and Memory and Shelter from Dragon Gate in Seattle and Port Townsend. She had grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Guggenheim Foundation, and the Lila Wallace – Readers’ Digest Fund. Her work appears on-line at her blog, Spice Drawer Mouse and at Salt River Review. Poems and an essay were in Salt River Review’s anthology, In Like Company. Since 2009 she has done some volunteer work at The Scandinavian Immigrant Experience at Pacific Lutheran University. She has degrees from 1972 and 1974 from University of Washington and University of Iowa. She lives in Tacoma, Washington.