Madeline Defrees Poetry Library Collection

Themes in the poetry of Madeline DeFrees are described as “an individual’s search for enlightenment, the continual shock to the senses, the ambiguity of good and evil, and the tension between hope and despair.” These themes resonate from a poet whose writing life was fostered during many years as a nun with the Catholic Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, which she entered upon graduation from high school and from which she later requested release.

 As Sister Mary Gilbert, she completed a B.A. in English at Marylhurst College in 1948, a M.A. in Journalism at the University of Oregon in 1951, and then taught in a variety of positions from elementary through high school and college. She resumed her baptismal name before she began teaching at The University of Montana in 1967 as Sister Madeline DeFrees where she remained until 1979. After retiring from teaching, DeFrees lived in Seattle until her death at 95 on November 11, 2015.

 DeFrees graciously donated her entire poetry library to the Maureen & Mike Mansfield Library where it is now housed in the Poetry Corner, a space dedicated to the study and writing of creative literature. This rich collection continues to be a source of inspiration for students and will do so on into the future. The Poetry Corner was developed in support of the Creative Writing Program at The University of Montana and is used for study, literary readings, and creative writing classes.