Monday, July 24, 2017
She is one of the poets featured in my anthology The Turning Aside: The Kingdom Poets Book of Contemporary Christian Poetry — (available here) and through Amazon.
When asked — in a 2009 Image interview with Jennifer Maier — about the pressure within the convent to avoid individuality, as she was developing as a poet, she said:
----"There was a lot of internal pressure away from poetry. I knew
----Hopkins had given it up because he thought it would interfere
----with prayer...I used to think that because poetry required a
----kind of total attention, and so did prayer, that they went
----together. I had superiors, at least one, who told me that I
----wasn’t anything special just because I was a poet. I knew I
----wasn’t supposed to be writing poems when I was supposed to be
----praying. But they really are very close."
DeFrees was released from her vows in 1973. She explained why her poems would rarely be seen as being particularly Christian:
----"I used to think that the reason I didn’t write religious poems
----was that I really respected religion, and there was nothing worse
----than a poem that wanted to be religious and fell short of the
----mark. The main shortcoming would be sentimentality."
The following poem is from her collection Blue Dusk: New & Selected Poems (2001, Copper Canyon).
At 47, Hope's driven to find her feet in construction.
She crawls the hip roof of her house like a cat burglar,
gives herself plenty of rope, lashed to
the chimney. In her left hand, she carries a loaded
staple gun. Her right grips the insubstantial.
Cordless phone in my lap, I watch at 74, from my rented
wheelchair, fingers tattooing 9-1-1.
Let me hop with the help of the Sunrise Medical Guardian
to the open door to rehearse
our common fate. We are Siamese joined by a bungee
cord at the inner ear, that delicate point of balance.
Every day we devise new methods
of locomotion. When my walker, upset by a comforter,
collapses to the floor and takes me
with it, I want to reverse the digits:
four and seven, seven and four. Yesterday, Hope wrestled
the circular saw over the edge
where she clung to the ridge and tripped on the safety
cord. It was then I heard the Sirens
wooing Ulysses tied to the mast. Twilight hangs fire
in the west, then snuffs it out. Behind the slant roof
of a dormer, Hope disappears. Two ladders
reach into the void. Is that white flash a sneakered
foot in search of a rung? I conjure a cloudy head
between the smokestack and the evergreen.
No matter how I strain, I cannot bring her back.
Reluctantly I fiddle with the blind,
hear a tune old as the burning of Rome as I weave
between the cave and the whirlpool for a saving
equilibrium. What if I call her Faith,
the evidence of things unseen?
*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Madeline DeFrees: first post
Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.