Monday, December 18, 2023

Irene Zimmerman

Irene Zimmerman is a Franciscan nun who was born in 1932 and grew up in Westphalia, Iowa. She taught in a Catholic high school in Milwaukee for 20 years, was a French tutor at a boarding school in Germany, and later served as poet-in-residence at St. Joseph Retreat in Bailey's Harbor, Wisconsin. She is now retired.

Sister Irene has published five poetry books, including Woman Un-Bent (1999, St. Mary’s Press) and Where God is at Home (2019, ACTA Publications).

She reminisces about entering Alverno College at age 21: “The community’s charism of fostering the arts was [a] powerful influence. Singing in the sisters’ choir made me feel that this community was where I belonged.” Later during her years teaching in Milwaukee she found her poetic voice.

The following poem is from Incarnation: New and Selected Poems for Spiritual Reflection (2004, Cowley Publications).


In careful hands
God held the molten world—
fragile filigree
of unfinished blown glass.

Then Mary’s word: Yes!
rose like a pillar of fire,
and Breath blew creation
into Christed crystal.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.