Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times Paperback – 1 Jan 2002
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'Staying Alive'is a magnificent anthology. I can't think of any other anthology that has introduced me to so many vivid and memorable poems. -- Philip Pullman, Children's writer
A book for people who know they love poetry, and for people who think they don't. -- Helen Dunmore, novelist and poet
A wonderful book - a powerful weapon of happiness -- Sir Richard Eyre, TV and theatre director
An incredible anthology... for inspiration, solace and perspective .. but mostly just for pure pleasure. -- Shirley Manson, musician (Garbage)
Everyone who cares about poetry should own this book. -- Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate
These poems, just words, distil the human heart as nothing else. -- Jane Campion, film director
This unique collection of 20th century poetry from all over the world cannot fail to enrich your life. -- Denis Healey, politician
Truly startling and powerful poems -- Mia Farrow, actor
When you choose your book for Desert Island Discs this should be it. -- Helena Kennedy, QC, human rights lawyer
[Staying Alive] is a relvelation. Buy it. Leave it around the house. Give it to friends. It could keep them alive. -- Sunday Times, June 23 2002
About the Author
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 Northumberland.
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Top customer reviews
As an English teacher currently reading a Masters degree in Creative Writing, I would unreservedly recommend this anthology for two main reasons,
(1)It contains an amazing breadth and depth of contemporary poetry that relates to human experience. So much so that it is the ONLY poetry book I have given as presents to friends who profess no interest in poetry whatsoever. If you want know what all the fuss is about this form of writing then this book is best fitted to meet your curiosity.
(2) Editor Neil Astley has cleverly organised the poetry into loose thematic chapters so the reader is able to access (and compare)treatments of subjects close to their heart.
I have over 20 poetry compilations in my library and have read a lot more- this is the best. It has done what I previously thought impossible in toppling Hughes' and Heaney's 'The Rattlebag' off the top spot.
One slight word of caution, 'Staying Alive' unlike 'The Rattlebag'is definitely for an adult readership, in both sensibility and language.
Can't wait for the sequel 'Being Alive'
Unlike other anthologies, Staying Alive isn't about paying homage to the "greats". There's no Shakespeare in here, no Wordsworth (although he is referred to more than once), no Hardy. Why? Not because they're no good, obviously, but because they feature in 99% of all anthologies on the market. What you get in Staying Alive is almost exclusively modern poetry. And quite a lost of it translated. In the first section alone - "Body and Soul" - there are translations from Czech, Polish, German and Russian. I don't know what the originals are like, but the translated versions work perfectly.
The author-info at the book says that Neil Astley has been editing poetry for nearly thirty years. He founded Bloodaxe books and has edited over 700 poetry books. It shows. I imagine him spending all that time making little marks in the margin whenever he comes across something particularly splendid. This book is the culmination of all that effort. It won't easily be bettered.
If you only ever come into one ten-pound note in the course of your lifetime, use it to buy this, then spend the change on food. It's that good.
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