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