Poetry by Elaine Equi
February 1, 1998 • 6 x 9 • 96 pages • 978-1-56689-078-6
Synthesizing twenty years of influences, Equi constructs a collage of voices—undoubtedly American, exquisitely her own.
“Nothing needs us / but we need / a lot of reassurance / before we can reassure / those things we thought / we needed that they exist too.”
Wayne Koestenbaum writes of these spare lyrics: “Clean, clear, cool, quick: Elaine Equi’s beautiful epigrams of refusal, entirely contemporary, exist at a blissful remove from the fatiguing. I learn a lot from them about how to live and write. I relish her mystic attentiveness to silence, and to the daily uncanny. She is at once an entertainer and an oracle: a winning combination.”
Evoking muses both literary—Wang Wei, Lorine Niedecker, Bartlett’s Quotations, Frank O’Hara—and pop cultural—Armani, karaoke, shopping, porn—Equi writes poems that refuse to be sentimental while never refusing sentiment.
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.
“Clean, clear, cool, quick: Elaine Equi’s beautiful epigrams of refusal, entirely contemporary, exist at a blissful remove from the fatiguing. I learn a lot from them about how to live and how to write. I relish her mystic attentiveness to silence, and to the daily uncanny. She is at once an entertainer and an oracle: a winning combination.” —Wayne Koestenbaum
“Equi finds in the small things—gestures, moments, objects—a core simplicity, neither pious nor reductive, which recovers and redefines an essential American spirit. . . . As lucid and welcome as dawn itself, these poems ride to us on spare lines. . . . This is a collection to guide you safely into the next millennium.” —Ann Lauterbach
“Elaine Equi’s eclectic new book is her best to date. She calibrates the nuances of voice in these poems until they ring like music, all the while giving us images and tableaux of sharp contrasts and the subtlest colorations. ‘The poem is a small machine made of God,’ Ms. Equi writes. And in poem after poem Voice-Over unfolds as a wonderful assemblage, carefully constructed, infused with mystery and delight.” —Nicolas Christopher