Reflections, Ruth Fackenthal 

Reflections, Ruth Fackenthal 


ABOUT THE EXILES' GALLERY (Listed as #25 on the National Post's list of the Best Books of 2015)

Widely praised for her engagement and her attention to craft, Elise Partridge's The Exiles' Gallery confirms her standing as one of the most thoughtful, authentic voices in contemporary poetry.  The poems in her third collection continue to explore what she has called "implicit questions about fullness of life or lives somehow thwarted, diminished or ended too early."  Through formal technique, painterly detail, or her signature compressed directness, Patridge's poems explore the past, present and future with compassion and grief, bearing witness to our not-so-still, all-too-brief lives.

Above all, The Exiles' Gallery is a book of celebration.  In these restless, nimble, and complex poems of apprehension -- whether by a candid glance backward at childhood or through tributes to friends -- Patridge's arresting images and diction give shape to the complexity and abundance of experience, made more luminous and gilt-edged by the corridor of encroaching shadows. Dispossessed but defiant, these are songs of preservation and love.


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


...the profuse skill in these poems denies the claim to amateurism. Within her stanzas, Partridge frequently uses a structural form of internal and end rhyme that denies conventional definition – what might be dubbed the Elisian stanza. These formal constraints, combined with fresh description, fashion The Exiles’ Gallery as a poets’ poetry collection, infused with both an appreciative eye and sorrowful surrender...more


"In their ample, embracing, nuanced appetite for sensory experience, [Elise Partridge’s] poems achieve an ardent, compassionate, and unsentimental vision.” — Robert Pinsky, Washington Post

“There is no cynicism or pretension here, only the authenticity that comes from careful study of both word and world.” — Stephanie Bolster

“Partridge is a technical wizard for whom thinking and feeling are not separate activities. She is a hawk-like observer of the particular . . . many times ascending to pitch-perfect verse.” — Ken Babstock, Globe and Mail

"Elise Partridge is a poet of brilliant precisions. Each line presents a new, glinting angle of thought. [Her] poems — good, tangy and chunky on the tongue — somehow reflect life's plenitude while maintaining their own spareness and balance. The result is an art of eerie compassion...." — Rosanna Warren

"Partridge's impressive poems pursue a careful thinker's yearning for abandon, a loyal friend and partner's wish for change. Attentive to fact, to what she sees and knows, Partridge nonetheless makes space for what is wild, outside and within us — for the fears and the blanks of chemotherapy, for sharp variations within (and without) frames and metre of rhyme, and for the welcome consistencies of married love. She has learned detail-work, and patience, from Elizabeth Bishop, but she has made other virtues her own: riffs on familiar phrases open startling vistas and even her love poems get attractively practical. Hers is a welcome invitation: let's listen in." — Stephen Burt

“A fully formed voice speaks in these poems that invite us to share their closely observed particulars — a hospitable voice, full of intelligence, good humour, candour, engagement. Each poem commands attention. Exemplary.” — Robyn Sarah, National Post

“Unfeigned passion . . . thrilling, memorable.” — Robert Pinsky

"Elise Partridge, whose Chameleon Hours records the author's near brush with death, [offers] both a benevolent and a meaningful response to the threat of extinction. Mostly, Partridge records her horror obliquely and with considerable humour." — Patrick Warner, Riddle Fence

"Partridge's adjectives bristle with life from page one ... [she] has a knack for creating resonating, symbolic, and yet gently strange images." — Jana Prikryl, Books in Canada

“First rate . . . a true heir of Elizabeth Bishop.” — James Pollock,

"Elise Partridge's Chameleon Hours deserves the praise it has received on both sides of the border. It is compelling, richly observed, meaningful and exquisitely crafted. Partridge manages to make passionate art from the threat and trauma of grave illness and the possibility of losing one's life." — Barbara Myers, Arc

"She is a force that Canadians cannot afford to ignore any longer. . . . There can never be any question . . . of Partridge's labour, her determination of will, the fastening of the will to the poet's task. And together with an incredible distinction of craftsmanship, of mastery and evotion to the form, Patridge's poetry also features the succsful integration of demotic language, such taht these poems can be enjoyed both for their use of form and for their enjoyment as ordinariy life-affirming poems." — Jason Ranon Uri Rotstein, Canadian Literature.

“Reading [Partridge's work], I find myself marveling at the luck of each person, place, thing, or circumstance, to have Elise Partridge’s exquisite and precise attention. And how lucky we are to get to listen in as she offers each of them her flawless ear." — Jacqueline Osherow

“Elise Partridge brings the most mundane moments vividly to life.” — Vancouver Sun


Elise Partridge died on January 31, 2015.  She had been diagnosed with colon cancer in early 2014.

Following are some recent articles about her death and work:

Globe & Mail:  Respected Poet Elise Partridge was Meticulous to the End
Globe & Mail: Award-Winning BC Poet Elise Partridge Dies
Quill & Quire:  Poet Elise Partridge Succumbs to cancer at age 56

Other public tributes are posted on the Reviews and Commentary section of this website;  people also post public comments on the Elise Partridge Facebook page.

Elise asked that contributions in her memory, in lieu of flowers, be given to one of the following entities:

The Elise and Stephen Partridge Fund of the New York Community Trust, "to be used for the arts, educational opportunities for girls and young women, and gay rights."  Donations should be payable to "The New York Community Trust" with "Elise and Stephen Partridge Fund" also written on the check and then mailed to The New York Community Trust at 909 Third Avenue, NY NY 10022.

The Helen Sawaya Fund, which "generates an atmosphere for cancer patients that supports them emotionally, including various forms of alternative therapies." Checks can be made out to the Helen Sawaya Fund and mailed to Gabriel A. Sara, M.D., St. Lukes-Roosevelt Hospital Center, Division of Hematology & Oncology, 11th Floor, 1000 10th Avenue, NY NY 10019.  More information is available online here.

The British Columbia Cancer Foundation.  Checks should be made out to the "British Columbia Cancer Foundation," marked "In memory of Elise Partridge," and mailed to 150 – 686 W. Broadway,
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1G1.  Donations can also be made online here.