Acclaimed Poet Elise Partridge Has Died

VCCA has learned that Elise Partridge died on January 31 at 57 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Originally from the States, Partridge, an award-winning writer, had lived in Vancouver, BC since 1992.

Raised in Pennsylvania, Elise studied at Harvard University, Cambridge University, Boston University and the University of British Columbia. 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.
Describing Elise, Damian Rogers, poetry editor of the House of Anansi, the publisher of he forthcoming The Exiles’ Gallery said: “I had long admired Elise Partridge’s work but we only began corresponding about a year ago, when we acquired The Exiles’ Gallery. 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. Even though we never met in person, I fell in love with her through her letters. She taught me so much, especially in these last few months, about how to be an uncompromising artist and a kind, supportive person in the same breath.”

VCCA extends its condolences to Elise’s husband, Stephen Partridge, a professor of medieval literature at UBC. Elise pays tribute to him in the poem Gifts, which is included in The Exiles’ Gallery: “…I leave/ nothing of enviable worth;/ no children; tureens of cracked/ china (an aunt’s)./ 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.”


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