Saturday, November 21, 2009

Madeline DeFrees Celebration - Poetry and Grace @ 90


I love looking at these photographs as they remind me what a perfect evening we all had. Since I almost never take photographs, Tim Woods' images seem very magical to me. I love that Madeline's corsage (from two of her admirers) figures prominently, that the age range of attendees was vast and wide - as seen here, that Madeline looked happier and more relaxed than I'd ever seen her before. Notice on the podium, the photographs of a younger Madeline, the one to the left in her Elizabeth Bishop pose.

The evening began with food for all from the new Elliott Bay Cafe. When Madeline arrived, a spontaneous round of Happy Birthday rang out and she was presented with her corsage. Joe Green was there with the broadside he and  Marquita Green created for the occasion. More and more people kept arriving, and soon the room was overflowing with people who had traveled over water and mountains to wish Madeline well and celebrate her. Writer Anne McDuffie began by thanking everyone  for their part in the evening - although most of us knew she was the true organizer of the night. The poet Tom Aslin spoke of working with Madeline in Montana and the friendship that developed out of that time; Christopher Howell told of publishing Madeline's work when she taught at Holy Names in Spokane and the typo Madeline found on the back cover - that did not ruin their friendship. I also spoke. Madeline was my thesis directer when I was an undergraduate. I told of how terrified I was of her (it was a one on one tutorial) but how those sessions are what laid the groundwork for my life in poetry. I could not have become a poet without her influence. The evening concluded with a three tiered chocolate cake thanks to Copper Canyon Press and a champagne toast. Copper Canyon has published her last three books. Madeline makes 90 look like a great time - she handles age as she does poetry, with humor and grace. It's an evening that will live on.


  1. Lovely pictures, Susan. Wonderful blog!

  2. So sorry to miss this! What magical moments here!

  3. This is wonderful - I love the pictures!

  4. What a wonderful site. I am a Journalism student and (although in an anthogoy with other writers) a published author. I would love it if you come and visit me.
    I will certianly be back.

  5. Thanks very much for posting this. Madeline was my advisor in graduate school long, long ago, and remains an inspiration. Wonderful to see the photos of her, and to know she's getting some recognition.

    David Graham

  6. Happy, happy 90th, Madeline! You taught me at Fort Wright when I was "Sister Kathleen Morse" and after a 25 year marriage, a divorce, a sudden and unexpected new love and moving to Arizona, I still am writing! Am reading "Spectral Waves" now...

    Much love and many congratulations,
    Kathleen Noble
    "The Dassler Diaries"