Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Elise Partridge

Here's an interview with Elise Partridge, from the Walrus blog. Elise is someone I've got to know--and like a great deal--since moving to Vancouver. I find it interesting that she says that Canada is more hospitable to metrical rhyming poetry than the States. My impression has been the opposite. I can't imagine an American poet such as Richard Wilbur, for instance, becoming the Big Name he is in Canada, where poets like George Johnston and Richard Outram worked in obscurity and where as fine a poet as Charles Bruce has been all-but-forgotten. I reckon Vancouverite Daryl Hine would also dispute Elise's observation. By contrast, it seems as tho Black Mountaineering has been a more popular sport in Canada than in its country of origin.

I haven't read Elise's new book yet, but her first collection, Fielder's Choice, has some really excellent poems in it. What I particularly like about Elise's work is the balance of playful humour and poignant emotion in it, both modulated by a very fine verbal precision, which is, as others have noted, reminiscent of the work of Elizabeth Bishop.

Here are a few more links:

"One Calvinist's God" - Arc's How Poems Work

"Buying the Farm" - Maisonneuve

"Two Cowboys" - The Walrus

"The Runt Lily" - Poet Laureate's Poem of the Week

Three Poems - Poetry Daily

"In the Barn" - Washington Post

"Elegy" - Slate (with audio)

"For a Father" - Writer's Almanac (with audio-scroll down to the bottom)

"Supermarket Scanner" - Writer's Almanac (with audio-scroll down to the bottom)

"Rural Route" - Writer's Almanac (with audio-scroll down to the middle)

"Chemo Side-Effects: Vision" - The New Yorker

"First Days Back at Work" - The New Yorker

"Plague" - from a wildflower website


Matt Rader said...

You know Zach, living in the US for the past couple of years, I have to agree with Elise, at least as far as contemporary poetry is concerned. Richard Wilbur is not read by young poets here. Anthony Hecht is virtually unknown. The New Formalists are, I think fairly, seen as stuffy. And American students don't read outside of their own borders. At all. Now, that's just my experience, but it's supported by people I know who have taught and studied across the country.

Zachariah Wells said...

That's interesting, because I know people like yourself and Steven Price, who have a healthy interest in the possibilities afforded by stanza and metre, have gone to the States for grad work. Whereas most of the other people I know who have similar prosodic leanings haven't done grad work at all or, like me, didn't find it very useful. Granted, a far from scientific analysis.

But I guess you're right about contemporary work, tho I have to confess my own reading of contemporary American poetry hasn't been wide and Thomas Lynch, a favourite of mine, isn't exactly a junior practitioner of the art. I can't think of any notable younger poets in the States who are interested in rhyme and meter, whereas there's a whole slew here, particularly in the 25-45 age range. And yeah, I'm pretty leery of New Formalism as such; seems just another umbrella designed to keep not-so-great poets dry.