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Topic: Elise Partridge

Imagining a Legacy: Elise Partridge's The Exiles’ Gallery

In a season of debuts, Elise Partridge’s The Exiles’ Gallery builds like a grand finale. It is her third and final book, the last we will ever receive from this maestro of the finely-tuned image. We may never understand how Partridge’s quiet economy can also be dangerously unsettling. In these poems there is a voice sure of its own pitch, telling us of life’s missed chances and the griefs which careen out of our control. It’s like being taken to a cliff’s edge by a guide who calmly elucidates its potential terrors.

On Elise Partridge's "One Calvinist's God"

The Christian doctrine of “The Rapture” and Calvin’s “Preordained Selection” are subverted in the predatory imagery of this poem. There is nothing resembling ecstatic delight to be found as prey in the clutches of a raptor, and there is more than a little sense of being duped when chosen by God only to find an omnipotent “yellow-eyed glare.” Poignancy and courage imbue the lines if the reader knows that the poet has, for a number of years now, been living with and fighting cancer. It increases the dread of “One midnight, you imagine, you’ll be swept up, / a mouse off a toadstool, shrieking into the air.” …