Poetry by Elaine Equi

November 1, 1994 • 6 x 9 • 80 pages • 978-1-56689-026-7

“In Elaine Equi’s brilliant Decoy, each poem is a ‘neatly folded labyrinth.’ Here everything is artifice—like the labyrinth, a deadly little joke, one we’re ‘in on’ until, suddenly, we’re not so sure. The poems in this book are both spooky and spoofy. Eventually we realize that, despite its campy, B-movie trappings, the monster (our world) is real. We realize this gradually because of Equi’s light touch. Like Muhammed Ali, she floats while stinging.” —Rae Armantrout

About the Author

Elaine Equi, author of Click and Clone (Coffee House Press, 2011), was born in Oak Park, Illinois, and raised in Chicago and its outlying suburbs. In 1988, she moved to New York City with her husband poet Jerome Sala. Over the years, her witty, aphoristic, and innovative work has become nationally and internationally known. Her last book, Ripple Effect: New & Selected Poems, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and on the short list for Canada’s prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize.

Among her other titles are Surface Tension, Decoy, Voice-Over, which won the San Francisco State University Poetry Center Award, and The Cloud of Knowable Things. Widely published and anthologized, her work has appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry, the American Poetry Review, the Nation, and numerous volumes of the Best American Poetry. She teaches at New York University, and in the MFA Programs at the New School and the City College of New York.


“This is exceedingly delicate work, infused with a sly and bawdy sense of humor, and when she’s on, she’s one of the best.” The Nation

“Equi’s second collection emerges as a provocative mixture of postmodern eclecticism and graceful wit. . . . [She] successfully merges the serious and the absurd in language that is by turns ironic, frivolous and lyrical.” Publishers Weekly

“What she reflects on is never easy.  Decoy is work with wide-open eyes alert to surprises, steady in shocks. It’s serious poetry.” Lit: Chicago’s Literary Supplement

“Elaine Equi deftly collides bawdiness and faith, pop culture and high art, complexity and ease. . . . The poems in Decoy are logically and syntactically taut, their surfaces tidy and terse with the frequent connectives lending an apparent seamlessness.” —Tom Clark for The San Francisco Chronicle

Decoy moves upon you gradually with postludes of gentleness . . . then agile maneuvers that seize us unaware. The flawless title poem, ‘Decoy,’ twists as if on a perilous frame, and it is. We acknowledge the dependency of poetry on the poet’s sensibility. Here at each turn of her stanzas, askew or bluntly set . . . the poem feasts on dependency. ‘o empiricism / o anatomy.’ O poet.” —Barbara Guest