The great nature poet turns her attention to the sea in this masterly account of the fate that befalls a minor character from The Odyssey. A rapturous hymn to the waters that envelop the protagonist and a roll-call of figures from the heart of Greek myth, Nobody is a limpid, liquid marvel, alive with wonder and lyricism.
This is a book-length poem - a collage of water-stories, taken mostly from the Odyssey - about a minor character, abandoned on a stony island. It is not a translation, though, but a close inspection of the sea that surrounds him.
There are several voices in the poem but no proper names, although its presiding spirit is Proteus, the shape-shifting sea-god. We recognise other mythical characters - Helios, Icarus, Alcyone, Philoctetes, Calypso, Clytemnestra, Orpheus, Poseidon, Hermes - who drift in and out of the poem, surfacing briefly before disappearing.
Reading Nobody is like watching the ocean: a destabilising experience that becomes mesmeric, almost hallucinatory, as we slip our earthly moorings and follow the circling shoal of sea voices into a mesh of sound and light and water - fluid, abstract, and moving with the wash of waves.
As with all of Alice Oswald's work, this is poetry that is made for the human voice, but this poem takes on the qualities of another element: dense, muscular and liquid. one person has the character of dust another has an arrow for a soul but their stories all end somewhere in the sea.
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Number of pages: 88
Weight: 107 g
Dimensions: 198 x 131 x 7 mm
'Nobody...is a paean to water, to the fluidity of language and the porousness between beings and stories... Both form and language echo the ceaseless drift, flitting movement and translucence of their uncontainable body...and, as with any memorable trip, the effects of reading Nobody linger in and around the mind long after the experience has passed.' - The Financial Times
'The text (and characters) ebb and flow as mesmerically as the sea, a fluid abstraction that speaks to the power of the ocean.' - i
'[Oswald is] a revolutionary, an eco-poet whose ideas are alive with sensory experience. Her new book, Nobody, is a kid of verse novel which refuses even the conventions of storytelling.' - The Guardian
'Quiet, woozy, immersive...Nobody...[is] marvellous.' - The Daily Telegraph