Drift by Caroline Bergvall
Essays,  Intergenre,  Poetry,  | $19.95
paperback, 190 pages, 5 1/4 x 7 1/4 in
Publication Date: 2014
ISBN: 978-1-937658-20-5

Receipent of the 2017 Cholmondeley Award for Poetry

A riveting new volume exploring the power and provocation of medieval English and the trope of the seafarer.

Caroline Bergvall’s Drift retraces the language and maritime imagination of early medieval North Atlantic travels from the sagas to quest poems to today’s sea migrancies. Its centerpiece is the song cycle, “Drift,” which takes the anonymous 10th century Anglo-Saxon quest poem The Seafarer as its inspiration. Both ancient and contemporary tales of travel and exile shadow the plight and losses of wanderers across the waters in this haunting new book. Drift is the second of Bergvall’s explorations of historical English language. The text sequences combine with drawings, maps, macro-photos to track these depths.


Interview with Andy Fitch for LARB


With texts and live voice by Caroline Bergvall, live and treated percussion by Ingar Zach and visual programming from Thomas Köppel, the interdisciplinary performance Drift integrates past and present in resonant and hypnotic ways. Audiences travel through the seas of history, across drifting and shifting language masses.    

Drift has been performed at the La Bâtie festival in Geneva and across the UK with a tour co-ordinated by Penned in the Margins including opening Poetry International at the London Southbank Centre. 


"The book’s first section begins with a flummoxing series of sixteen line drawings. Mostly horizontal, sometimes partially crosshatched vertically or diagonally or developing into ovoid circles, they display gestures of line and smudge, redaction and emphasis, but no hint of alphabet. We find ourselves at the creative intersection of assertion and cross-out, musical staff lines awaiting notes, the exciting brink of language emerging from a lineated sea."—DANA LEVIN, Boston Review