Poet Kate Partridge is interested in Walt Whitman’s conception of American democracy as “athletic” and how the body itself is figured as democratic in different forms of American media. Having relocated to Alaska aware of narratives that portray the exploration and settlement of the North as a physical and intellectual test, Partridge hopes to contribute an artistic exploration of how these conceptions of wildness and physical challenge function within the complex human and geographic landscapes of urban Alaska. Partridge works to unite experiences of the kinesthetic with language while investigating the intersections of the lyric essay with poetry, bringing the inquiry to bear on a side of Alaskan life that she sees as understated in Alaska's literary cannon.
Partridge conjoins these interests with an interest in hybrid literary forms and collaged texts in writing a poetry manuscript titled Democratic/Athletic. The poems collage language from Whitman's essays, the original text of Gray’s Anatomy: Descriptive and Surgical, the voices of Northern or North-concerned writers like John Haines and John Muir, Alaska Native writers, texts concerned with urban Alaska, her own experiences as an athlete, and other sources. What happens when Whitman’s discussion of participatory democracy is transposed onto conversations about these other kinds of political and ecological relationships?
Partridge's three-month research and writing residency at the Anchorage Museum began in fall 2014, continuing extensive preliminary work with the Whitman notebook archive at the Library of Congress and Alaska’s Digital Archives. With guidance from the museum's collections staff, she conducted primary research with expert advice on the history of urban development in Southcentral Alaska. The research provides a contextual framing for urban Alaska and material for a hybridized, polyphonic genre.
Kate Partridge is a graduate of Denison University and the MFA program in creative writing at George Mason University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Colorado Review, Barrelhouse, Rhino, BLOOM, and Better. She has been awarded residencies by the Vermont Studio Center and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, and her manuscript Say When was a finalist for the Autumn House Poetry Prize and the May Swenson Poetry Prize. She lives in Anchorage. She is a term instructor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, coordinator of the Crosscurrents Reading Series, and count coordinator for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.