Charles Theonia

'Collective poesy'

The disruptive pleasures of Caroline Bergvall's 'Alisoun Sings'

Photo by Helena Wikström, courtesy of Caroline Bergvall, 'Drift Umeå,' NorrlandsOperan, Sweden.

During an interview from the afterlife, Jack Spicer tells Hoa Nguyen that in making a poem, “you start with a syllable machine and see what ghosts you catch.” Similarly spirited, Caroline Bergvall’s Alisoun Sings channels a polyphonous “voice-cluster” of pop stars and feminist icons of art and literature, all centered around Alisoun, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath. Together across time, Bergvall and Alisoun form a “collective poesy” (104) through queer networks of affiliation to explore pleasure’s physical and linguistic role in disbanding the national ties that constrain us and allowing us to re-form in new, more livable configurations.

During an interview from the afterlife, Jack Spicer tells Hoa Nguyen that in making a poem, “you start with a syllable machine and see what ghosts you catch.” Similarly spirited, Caroline Bergvall’s Alisoun Sings channels a polyphonous “voice-cluster”[1] of pop stars and feminist icons of art and literature, all centered around Alisoun, Chaucer’s Wife of Bath.

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