Surface Tension

Poetry by Elaine Equi

September 1, 1989 • 6 x 9 • 96 pages • 978-0-918273-54-3

In Surface Tension, the twentieth-century metroplex comes alive in poems which bounce off of the coating of culture that stretches across present-day America. Equi transforms language into a form of peripheral vision scanning the cultural landscape.

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.


“A sophisticated, lyric-romantic sensibility oviously honed on New York, West Coast and international models. . . . [Equi writes] with a full, post-punk, Dorothy Parkerish kit of weapons: arched eye-brow barbs, nervy, catchy hooks of pop-conscious metaphor and double-meanings stitched in light-handedly, ‘as if doodled there with invisible ink.’” San Francisco Chronicle

“What’s amazing about Elaine Equi’s poetry is that it takes the best of abstraction and the maximum of figuration—city, family, and sex—and makes a fresh synthesis. One feels that she is the most hopeful poet alive: a woman’s wide gaze toward the world.” —David Shapiro

“Elaine Equi’s Surface Tension is a startling collection. Poem after poem surprises us with quiet insights and unexpected, oblique details.” —John Godfrey