Staying Alive

Staying Alive : Real Poems for Unreal Times

4.37 (1,282 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Staying Alive' is an international anthology of 500 life-affirming poems fired by belief in the human and the spiritual at a time when much in the world feels unreal, inhuman and hollow. These are poems of great personal force connecting our aspirations with our humanity, helping us stay alive to the world and stay true to ourselves. Many people turn to poetry only at unreal times, whether for consolation in loss or affirmation in love, or when facing other extremes and anxieties. 'Staying Alive' includes many of the great modern love poems and elegies, but it also shows the power of poetry in celebrating the ordinary miracle, taking you on a journey around many of the different aspects of everyday life explored in poems. A strong poem is not just for crisis. Such a poem is there for all times, helping us face or embrace daily change and disruption. It will also speak to us when nothing seems to be happening, when the poem's importance is in helping us stay alive to the world and stay true to ourselves. 'Staying Alive' has reached a wider readership than any other anthology of contemporary poetry. It is a landmark in the history of literary publishing. A sequel, 'Being Alive' (2004), and a companion anthology, 'Being Human' (2011), complete this poetry "trilogy".show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 496 pages
  • 140 x 212 x 32mm | 699.99g
  • Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1852245883
  • 9781852245887
  • 16,169

Review quote

'This is a book to make you fall in love with poetry - Go out and buy it for everyone you love' - Christina Patterson, Independent. 'A revelation - An anthology like this should make poetry reviewers feel not just enthusiastic but evangelical. Buy it. Leave it around the house. Give it to friends. It could keep them alive' - John Carey, Sunday Times. 'Anyone who has the faintest glimmer of interest in modern poetry must buy it. If I were master of the universe or held the lottery's purse strings, there would be a copy of it in every school, public library and hotel bedroom in the land. On page after page I found myself laughing, crying, wondering, rejoicing, reliving, wishing, envying. It is a book full of hope and high art which restores your faith in poetry' - Alan Taylor, Sunday Herald. 'The book is without equal as a handbook for students and readers' - Sian Hughes, Times Educational Supplement. 'The best anthology I've read or am likely to read - devastating' - Michael Colgan, Irish Times (Books of the Year). 'I don't often read poetry, so Staying Alive was a revelation' - Ian Rankin, Sunday Telegraph (Books of the Year). 'A book that travels everywhere with me - It is full of beautiful writing that can blow your mind' - Beth Orton, The more

About Neil Astley

Neil Astley is editor of Bloodaxe Books, which he founded in 1978. His books include two poetry collections and several anthologies, including 'Staying Alive: real poems from unreal times' (2002), 'Pleased to See Me: 69 very sexy poems' (2002), 'Do Not Go Gentle: poems for funerals' (2003), 'Being Alive: the sequel to Staying Alive' (2004), 'Passionfood: 100 Love Poems' (2005), 'Soul Food: nourishing poems for starved minds' [with Pamela Robertson-Pearce] (2007), 'Earth Shattering: ecopoems' (2007) and the DVD-book 'In Person: 30 Poets filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce' (2008). 'Being Human', the third anthology of the Staying Alive "trilogy", is due from Bloodaxe in 2011. He has published two novels, 'The End of My Tether' (Flambard, 2002; Scribner, 2003), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award, and 'The Sheep Who Changed the World' (Flambard, 2005). He received an Eric Gregory Award for his poetry and was given a D.Litt from Newcastle University for his work with Bloodaxe Books. He lives in more

Review Text

This eye-catching and well-presented anthology of 20th-century poetry bears cover plaudits by distinguished literary figures from Jane Campion to Philip Pullman. The faintly apocalyptic title gives the book a sense of urgency and importance that is fully justified by the outstanding contents. Divided into 12 sections with titles such as 'Body and Soul', 'Growing Up' and 'Disappearing Acts', the poems included cover every area of physical and emotional life and are thoughtfully and subtly arranged. They range from old favourites like Robert Frost's 'Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening' and Jenny Joseph's 'Warning' through works made famous through films and songs - Auden's 'Funeral Blues', recited in 'Four Weddings and a Funeral', is the most famous example - to less well known but equally appealing pieces such as Sujata Bhatt's 'White Asparagus'. Many have been brilliantly translated from other languages, such as Wislawa Szymbroska's clear-eyed and moving 'The End and the Beginning', about rebuilding after war, and Janos Pilinszky's touching snapshot of life, 'On the Back of a Photograph'. All are accessible, by turns merry, sorrowful and thought-provoking, and always full of truth and life. This is an anthology for everyone, and a glorious celebration of the vitality of modern poetry. (Kirkus UK)show more

Rating details

1,282 ratings
4.37 out of 5 stars
5 55% (704)
4 32% (407)
3 10% (130)
2 2% (32)
1 1% (9)
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