cover image Fig


Caroline Bergvall, . . Salt, $14.99 (148pp) ISBN 978-1-84471-092-8

Bergvall, a London-based poet who was raised French and Norwegian, is, along with Cecilia Vicuña, one of the most influential experimental spoken-word artists internationally. Her work heightens the semiotic coincidences and cross-cultural connections that multilingualism creates, as well as the gaps and absences it sometimes precipitates: "protracted hold-ups, a build-up of contraptions." This book collects 12 pieces, some of which were composed for particular performances or occasions, others begun "by accident." Most were designed to be delivered live in a room, but all were composed on the page; some require being looked at like visual art ("Dog") or read like musical scores ("sheat.... [cwouldrrepeatbburdenaactivity"); others call for the kind of decipherment that goes into reading Finnegans Wake : "heave–heavends Glissening Hearts be attitudes." The book's last two works, however (the title piece and "Gong"), work like conventional verse, beautifully reeling off figures, perspectives and fruits: "The conditions of love that condition poetry..../ To have my fig/ be a fig in the world/ and all that moves accordingly." (Jan.)