"A patient and meticulous observer of the world’s phenomena, both natural and human, [Elise Partridge] is often rightly compared to Elizabeth Bishop, with whom she shares a care for precision, fact and detail, as well as a profound sense of play." more
"Throughout her life and work, the poet Elise Partridge impeccably, and often heroically, maintained twin commitments. One of them was to the minute textures and resistances of language, and the other was to the value of selection in the poetic process. The If Borderlands, her collected poems, is a testament to those values." more
From Miranda Pearson's website, Christopher Levenson's review in Event Magazine of The Exiles' Gallery, The Fire Extinguisher, and My Shoes Are Killing Me by Robyn Sarah:
Review in Event Magazine, 2016
Elise Partridge, The Exiles’ Gallery, House of Anansi, 2015 Miranda Pearson, The Fire Extinguisher, Oolichan, 2015 Robyn Sarah, My Shoes Are KillingMe, Biblioasis, 2015 Unlike novels, where events and characters usually inhabit a recognizable world, no necessary correlation exists between poetry and our everyday existence. These three poets, all of comparable age, negotiate that relationship and their common concerns with family, disease, death, travel and, above all, memory in fascinating ways. Having first encountered Elise Partridge’s poems in Fiona Lam’s excellent anthology about cancer, The Bright Well, I knew her work was highly sophisticated and literate. In The Exiles’ Gallery, with its densely allusive grasp of history, archeology and the visual arts, Partridge’s inquiring mind finds almost everything interesting and discovers connectedness between many discrete activities going on simultaneously. This in turn produces a kind of wit not often encountered in Canadian poetry ...more
Phoebe Wang reviews The Exiles' Gallery in Arc Poetry Magazine:
"In a season of debuts, Elise Partridge’s The Exiles’ Gallery builds like a grand finale. It is her third and final book, the last we will ever receive from this maestro of the finely-tuned image. We may never understand how Partridge’s quiet economy can also be dangerously unsettling. In these poems there is a voice sure of its own pitch, telling us of life’s missed chances and the griefs which careen out of our control. It’s like being taken to a cliff’s edge by a guide who calmly elucidates its potential terrors...more
"The If Borderlands" brings together the three volumes Partridge published with smaller Canadian presses (an American-born poet, she lived for years in British Columbia), plus some uncollected work. It's an astonishing book that should secure Partridge some readers outside the mossy parapets of the poetry world."....more
In The Exile’s Gallery, the late Elise Partridge’s third, final, and very fine book of poems, nothing stays still. Boats sail and heel. A father swoops his daughter toward the ceiling. A balloon drifts away from earth. And other kinds of drifters seize Partridge’s attention, too...more
The last couple of poems I’ve posted about have required some rather professorial explanations about the hows and whys and wherefores, so this time I want to turn to a poem that I love mostly because of its exquisite music. The dramatic situation of the poem is not hard to grasp, and the average reader shouldn’t be put off by its approach to its material. So today I’m going to act less like a prof who needs to teach and more like an enthusiastic park ranger who at most might be able to hear and identify a few extra sounds in the field...more
Welcome to Lyric Essentials, where writers and poets share with us a passage or poem which is “essential” to their bookshelf and who they are as a writer. Today Adam Tavel reads “Transfer of Power” by Elise Partridge.
"The poem’s concision, expansive diction, formal control, and irony are marvelous. It reminds me of Philip Larkin, but Partridge’s voice remains distinctly her own..." more
THE NATIONAL POST LISTS THE EXILES' GALLERY AS #25 ON ITS BEST BOOKS OF 2015
In her final book of poems, Partridge’s inspired diction and generous appraisal of life in all of its terrible brevity is a masterstroke ending to a beautiful career. Having finished these poems shortly before dying of cancer, the straightforward poet writes about the terrible darkness with a remarkably guileless lack of cynicism. See list
Partridge's assortment of subjects comes together in an idiosyncratic but intimate way, like lingering in an expertly curated room. Her final offering is a fragile web of relationships between people, places, objects and memories, held together by love in the face of death. As such, The Exiles' Gallery is a subtly courageous final collection...more
One day last July, the poet David O’Meara received an e-mail from his friend Elise Partridge. They’d known one another since 2002, when her first book of poems was published. Her note contained a request: She wanted him to edit her new collection, which she had just sold to a publisher, and which was scheduled to be released the following spring.
There was a catch. She had been diagnosed with colon cancer in February, and this, she knew, would be her last book.
“We had a small time frame of a few months, so it was intense, candid and very focused,” Mr. O’Meara says. “Elise has always been a very meticulous poet, and her illness didn’t change this. Through the chemo and late-stage treatments, she was writing to me fastidiously about punctuation and line breaks, wanting every word choice to be in its best place. Her dedication was always deeply moving, but so much amplified by the situation. She was brave and generous to the end.”
The end came on Jan. 31, when Ms. Partridge died in the Palliative Care Unit at Vancouver General Hospital. She was 56 years old.
“It doesn’t surprise me that the discussion on social media of Elise’s death has centred as much on her as a person as on her as a poet,” says the writer Stephanie Bolster. “The two were inseparable. The generosity of spirit, the deep humanity, the ability to see each person or thing clearly and for its own qualities, marked both Elise and her work. ...more
ON GENEROSITY, CORRESPONDENCE, AND EMBRACING EXILE
I think the exile of poetry is also the exile of the best of humankind. —Octavio Paz
Why shouldn’t I drift off
like a lost balloon?
But you gave me another gift:
“I’ll carry you in my heart
till my last day on earth.”
One week ago today [February 7], the poet Elise Partridge died. She was 56. In about six weeks, finished copies of her third book, The Exiles’ Gallery, will be printed. It breaks my heart that she wasn’t able to hold one in her hand.
All week I’ve been trying to find a way to write about Elise, to communicate something more substantial than what I could fit into a social media post or official statement. I thought maybe I would write a “last letter” to her, since one of my first thoughts was that I owed her a letter. But it’s too stagey a conceit. I’m not writing to her, I’m writing to you....more
This piece is for Elise Partridge, who died a week ago. Her poems and her friendship over the past twenty years have meant a great deal to me. I hope my brief elegy pays some tribute to her life and work by attending to the kinds of small, often unremarked things, like snowbells, that her poems often did, in a mode that wants to approach her own careful craft. Hers is a poetics of care -- in its senses of close attention and rapt formalism, of respectful humility and warm concern....more
Elise Partridge was a long-time friend of Arc Poetry Magazine. She published in Arc, and was our first Poet-in-Residence in 2009. We’re pleased to present a heartfelt tribute from poet Elizabeth Bachinsky...more
All of us at PRISM are saddened by the passing of poet Elise Partridge. Her collections Fielder’s Choice and Chameleon Hours garnered awards and praise, and her poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Walrus and Slate, among others.
We were lucky enough to feature Elise’s poetry in our Fall issue 53.1:...
I first met Elise Partridge in the early 2000s. She was hosting a meeting of Vancouver's Poetry Dogs and graciously included me, at Stephanie Bolster's suggestion, while I was visiting the city. What an evening! Everyone brought a poem (by someone else, canonical or not) to talk about, wonder over, appreciate, take apart and put back together. more...