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...
...I’m not sure I can add much more to the lovely testimonials that have already appeared online, and I’m going to husband whatever ideas I have about her poetry for a longer piece about her upcoming (and now posthumous) book The Exile’s Gallery. But I thought it might be helpful to collect the reactions to her death in one place and maybe provide some of them—Facebook and Twitter being notoriously ephemeral—with a slightly more permanent home....more
...“I had long admired Elise Partridge’s work but we only began corresponding about a year ago, when we acquired The Exiles’ Gallery,” says Damian Rogers, House of Anansi’s poetry editor. “She was such a close and compassionate observer – which is clear in her poems – and for an essentially private person, she was openhearted and deeply engaged in the world and the work of others...more
...A dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, Partridge was the author of two well-received collections, Fielder’s Choice and Chameleon Hours. Her third collection, The Exiles’ Gallery, which Rogers calls “breathtaking,” is forthcoming from Anansi in April.
Poet and friend Zachariah Wells says that Partridge was “one of the finest North American poets of her generation,” and in a post on Facebook, fellow poet Ken Babstock writes, “Reading her poems is being in the presence of a mind fully engaged.” ...more
...Her first book of poetry, Fielder’s Choice was published in 2002. The collection was shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, which honors the best first book of poetry published in Canada each year. Her second book, 2008’s Chameleon Hours, partially written in response to her diagnosis, was a finalist for the BC Book Prize and won the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, The Walrus, Poetry and The New Republic. Elise was in residence at VCCA in 2009 for 20 days...more