Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Poets
Pages: 264
Publication Date: January 24, 2017

The If BorderlandsCollected Poems

by Elise Partridge

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Elise Partridge, who was born in the United States but spent her adult years in Canada, wrote three books of poetry that were widely admired for their meticulous, glittering craft and scrupulous truth-to-life. A poet of family and friends, of nature, of the daily round, of illness, who documented an early bout with and treatment for cancer with an unsparing but stoic clarity, Partridge was, as Rosanna Warren has said, “a poet of brilliant precisions. Each line represents a new glinting angle of thought...The result is an art of eerie compassion and an almost hyper-realist perception of the small.”

This new collection includes all the poems that Partridge prepared for publication during her lifetime as well as a selection of poems that were left in manuscript at the time of her death.


In their ample, embracing, nuanced appetite for sensory experience, [Partridge’s] poems achieve an ardent, compassionated, and unsentimental vision.
—Robert Pinsky, The Washington Post

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 with us—for the fears and the blanks of chemotherapy, for sharp variations within (and without) frames of meter and 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, The 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

There is no cynicism or pretension here, only the authenticity that comes from careful study of both word and world.
—Stephanie Bolster

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

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.
The Vancouver Sun