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
The contemporary poet Elise Partridge, in her book Chameleon Hours, has some observant poems about cancer treatment. I like the directness, clarity and understatement of these poems. Partridge scrupulously avoids playing for sympathy; but beyond that, in “Chemo Side Effects: Memory” she convinces me that her attention to memory loss is absorbing, rich in detail: a little like the fascination a birder or a nature poet communicates in rich textures of behavior...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
"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
“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
“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
"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, poetryreviews.ca
"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.
“There is no cynicism or pretension here, only the authenticity that comes from careful study of both word and world.” — Stephanie Bolster
"In their ample, embracing, nuanced appetite for sensory experience, [Elise Partridge’s] poems achieve an ardent, compassionate, and unsentimental vision.” — Robert Pinsky, Washington Post
“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