By early 2001 Elaine Feinstein had published fifteen novels and thirteen poetry collections, besides translation, biography, and drama, most of it for radio or television. She has given different answers to the question whether her poetry or fiction is primary. In 1985 she said that "if pushed" she would call herself "first and foremost a poet," but some years later she said that whichever she was working on recently tends to be her favourite genre. In most of her writing she is an interpreter, bringing work from one language or one medium into another, opening (through poems or novels) historical periods and actual events and people to the enquiring gaze of the creative imagination.
October 1966 EF issued her first publication in volume form, In a Green Eye, a slim, unpaginated booklet of poetry with front cover photographs of children and women in the street by Al Vandenberg.
By late October 1971 EF published the first English translations of Russian poet Marina Tsvetayeva or Tsvetaeva (who died in 1941): Selected Poems [of] Marina Tsvetayeva, together with literal versions by Angela Livingstone.