The spectre of illness hangs over The Exiles’ Gallery, the Vancouver writer Elise Partridge’s third collection of poetry, which will be published in April. It requires little more than a glance at the table of contents: Brief Lives, A Late Writer’s Desk, Anticancer Charm, Terminal, Exits Yet, reading the work itself, one is drawn to images of resistance: a moth caught in a spider’s web writhing “into revolutions till/ you can almost hear/ the hum as her sawdust-flake/ keeps the deathtrap/ shaking …” or a dying woman Partridge met in a cancer support group who “duelled to stay alive” until her daughter could be born. (“Some day we will tell her/ you refused to lie down,” Partridge writes.)
Partridge, an award-winning writer beloved by a Canadian poetry community that adopted her as one of their own, died on Saturday, January 31, after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was 56.