VOICE-OVER by Elaine Equi

VOICE-OVER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Manhattan—based poet (Decoy, 1994, etc.) reflects the New York School sensibility at its most playful in this ninth volume, full of philosophic nuggets, jokey wordplay, and tiny’sometimes one-word—lines. An urban chatterer like O—Hara, a minimalist like Williams, Equi likens her poems to Joseph Cornell’s dreamy box collages—collections of disparate objects and images that, in her case at least, seldom leave much of an afterglow. Cutesy to a fault, her more gnomic verse disguises a basic sentimentality (e.g., —Starting to Rain— or —Night School—). One-idea poems include many that simply demonstrate their titles: —Table of Contents for an Imaginary Book—; —Karoake Poem—; or —Little Landscape.— Poems meant to mock advertising seem more often a symptom of it: —Armani Weather, — for one, could be a description of a fashion photo shoot. Two poems pay homage to the transparent verse of promo icon Lorine Niedecker: —Almost Transparent— and the collage of lines from her letters, —From Lorine.— Equi aspires to deep thinking, mixing high and low cultural ideas: —Self Portrait as You— imagines a multiple self and dreams of —Heidegger’s words/in Marilyn Monroe’s mouth.— But most of the time Equi’s abstractions are fortune-cookie heavy (—Sexual fantasies are more than just mood music—) and her imagery banal (Edward Hopper’s —figures lean/like plants/toward light—). Despite her linguistic pretensions, and her Asiatic posturings, Equi’s poems are just small in every way.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-56689-078-0
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Coffee House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1998