cover image Decoy


Elaine Equi. Coffee House Press, $11.95 (80pp) ISBN 978-1-56689-026-7

Equi's (Surface Tension) second collection emerges as a provocative mixture of postmodern eclecticism and graceful wit. These poems are quietly ironic in tone, employing short, sparse lines that at times seem almost reminiscent of the stark elegance of haiku. Particularly admirable is Equi's ability to recycle the odd bits and scraps of her world and weld them into poetry-she can blithely write about Rilke, Rolling Rock beer, UFO's, Rimbaud, and the cooking show on channel 17 in practically the same breath. Throughout the volume Equi experiments with language; the elusive and artificial nature of language, speech and writing forms a prevalent and recurring theme in Decoy. At times, however, the wordplay can become a bit too self-consciously clever, and there is a dangerous tendency for some of the poems to flatten out into mere strings of aphorisms. There is an understated quirkiness about these poems that is ultimately compelling, however, and in the best of them Equi successfully merges the serious and absurd in language that is by turns ironic, frivolous and lyrical. (Nov.)