cover image GOAN ATOM


Caroline Bergvall, . . Krupskaya, $9 (80pp) ISBN 978-1-928650-08-9

In her second book, English poet and performance artist Bergvall builds and demolishes a set of phonetic analogies between words and bodies; both are permeable, expanding and contracting, accepting improvised additions and rejecting some: "Nothing can compare/ to te icdil of body past/ humanolo clac/ crowded physiques wat mumbl 'vaseline.'" And both are erotic sites ("Ambient fish fuckflowers bloom in your mouth") that harbor the potential —"defaced milkmachines"—of gendered violence. As words in this book-length sequence transmute letters to each other, "and nof invers at the tips," the problems of entering a foreign language (French in particular), or of reproducing unwritten dialects (English working-class dialects) further complicate matters: "Sgot/ a wides lit/ down the lily/ sgot avide slot." Sequences tend to begin with a dramatic announcement—"Enters the EVERY HOST"—and then give way to free association and transmutation of phonetic elements: "Enter DOLLY / Entered enters / Enters entered / Enter entre / en train en trail / en trav Ail Aïe". One or two blank pages often dramatize and theatricalize the entrance of these quasi-characters: "Clever holly / polie penny // sits on the cha / irk daisy." Such childish sing-songiness points the book's larger linguistic experiments toward the initial phases of language learning, and toward the fluid, uncertain linguistic signs there in play. Anyone who has seen Bergvall perform this or other works will know this book is only half the story, but its logical loops well-outline a minute drama—that of tracking a mutating linguistic sign as a species of corporeal, social thinking. (Sept.)