Multilingual Resistance

Duration: 75mins  |  Caroline Bergvall: Lead artist, text and live voice | Thomas Köppel: Electronic text projection  |  Ingar Zach: Sound composition & live percussion


Drift takes you on a journey through time and space, where languages mix, where live percussion meets live voice, where the ancient cohabits with the present. Nordic and Anglo-Saxon tales of exile and sea travel re-emerge to shadow today’s harrowing lives and losses during crossings of the Mediterranean. Each element of this work is integrated and moulded into a strongly connective, at times nearly archaic experience of being taken through the seas of history.

Premiered in the UK at Shorelines festival, Southend-on-Sea, Nov 2013. It opened Poetry International, Purcell Room, London, 2014 at the end of its UK tour. In Europe, recent sell-out shows at Festival de la Batie, Geneva, 2016.


“One of the most compelling performers and brilliantly inventive poets of our time, Caroline Bergvall is completely in control of her stage craft and a master of multiple languages – ancient and modern. This is a truly international show – taking the audience beyond borders of language and time.”

Rachel Lichtenstein, Artist,writer and curator of Shorelines

“Drift marks a significant ethical engagement for poetry in these isles”.”

Cherry Smyth, Art Monthly

Caroline Bergvall is a mesmerising performer - impossible to imagine someone more suited to perform her work. She's a solid, disconcertingly still presence in front of the floating clouds or storms of words behind her, all her energy poured into her voice's resonating depths. Sometimes words are crooned, sometimes half sung, sometimes interspersed with clicks of the tongue that echo a heartbeat, or passing time.

Alce Savill, Exeunt

Bergvall speak-sings in a marathon show in which her powerful voice is the thread, the star our ship follows as audience.

Sophie Mayer, F-The Word

The text for the performance was inspired by the language and themes of the Seafarer, an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poem from the 10th century as well as drawing dirictly from official material from a current sea migrants’ tragedy. A contemporary meditation on migrancy, exiles and sea-travel. The dense electronic text landscape created by Thomas Köppel provides a kinetic and hypnotic reading and visual structure. It both allows and transforms the reading experience into a fluid and perceptually subtle mode of connection between live voice and textual material.

When performed in non-English speaking contexts some of this graphic text is translated into the main language of the region and integrated to the moving electronic projection. The beats, resonances and treated brushes of Ingar Zach’s subtle percussion work creates both a deeply meditative experience and a contemporary tribal pulse.

Walter Ronzani: Review Drift, at OperaEstate, Bassano del Grappa. In Il Giornale di Vicenza, 9 Sept. 2018. Italian. PDF.

Greg Bem: Drift review –  Reviewed in RainTaxi, Summer 2015

Clara Sankey: Drift Review
Feb 2015
This sense of directionlessness – the Vikings called it hafvilla: not knowing where one is on the sea – is the singular thread that ties the book together. Review featuring scans of some of the drawings in great new mag The Improbable.

Tim Freeborn: Shake that Microtone: Caroline Bergvall’s Drift
Essay just up as a special feature in Rusty Toque, Nov’14 issue

David Kaufmann: Drift book review in Asymptote
Oct 2014
“Caroline Bergvall’s latest book, Drift, is haunted by the loss of the thorn, the yogh, and Anglo-Saxon generally”.

Alice Saville: Drift at the Forge, London, Exeunt magazine
Oct 14
“Poet Caroline Bergvall’s Drift is a multi-millenniumal mashup of sea stories”.

Cherry Smyth: DRIFT review in Art Monthly – PDF – 
Oct 14. Review of the performance and the book.

Sophie Mayer: Drift at the Southbank Centre: All at Sea
26 Aug 2014
“Watching this in performance, the testimony is almost overwhelming”. Sophie Mayer reviews DRIFT live at the Purcell Room and the book. For The F-Word.

Sarah Dawson: Drift at the Southbank Centre: I went to see
19 July 2014
I went to see Drift by Caroline Bergvall last Thursday. review of DRIFT live at the Purcell Room.

Steve Mentz: Caroline Bergvall’s Drift 
2 June 2014
Gorgeous, intricate, impassioned writing. A review of the book and a reader’s report w/ other links

Publishers Weekly: Book review: Drift* – PDF – 
14 May 2014
A book as filled with ghosts as with beauty, as driven by intellect as by wanderlust -PDF-