Authors: Neil Astley
STAYING ALIVE TRILOGY
Staying Alive, Being Alive
have introduced many thousands of new readers to contemporary poetry, and have helped poetry lovers to discover the little known riches of world poetry.
Each anthology in the
trilogy has 500 poems to touch the heart, stir the mind and ﬁre the spirit. These books have been enormously popular with readers, especially as gift books and bedside companions. The poems – by writers from many parts of the world – have emotional power, intellectual edge and playful wit.
This new pocketbook selection of 100 essential poems from the trilogy is a
travel companion. As well as selecting favourite poems from the trilogy – readers’ and writers’ choices as well as his own favourites – editor Neil Astley provides background notes on the poets and poems.
These essential poems are all about being human, being alive and staying alive: about love and loss; fear and longing; hurt and wonder; war and death; grief and suffering; birth, growing up and family; time, ageing and mortality; memory, self and identity…all of human life in a hundred highly individual, universal poems.
is a magnificent anthology. The last time I was so excited, engaged and enthralled by a collection of poems was when I first encountered
The Rattle Bag
. I can’t think of any other anthology that casts its net so widely, or one that has introduced me to so many vivid and memorable poems’ –
and keep going back to it.
is just as vivid, strongly present and equally beautifully organised. But this new book feels even more alive – I think it has a heartbeat, or maybe that’s my own thrum humming along with the music of these poets. Sitting alone in a room with these poems is to be assured that you are not alone, you are not crazy (or if you are, you’re not the only one who thinks this way!) I run home to this book to argue with it, find solace in it, to locate myself in the world again’ –
is…a poetic Babel, a library in one volume’ –
‘When you choose your book for
Desert Island Discs
, this should be it.
proves that poetry is the most sustaining and life-affirming of literary forms. A triumph’ –
‘The book I’d like to take is called
…it is 500 wonderful poems… I can learn them off by heart…also I think they will sustain me emotionally while I’m there’ –
Desert Island Discs
is a book which leaves those who have read or heard a poem from it feeling less alone and more alive. Its effect is deeply political – in a way that nobody ten years ago could have foreseen. Why? The 500 poems in it are not political as such. But they have become subversive because they contest the way the world is being (and has been) manipulated and spoken about. They refuse the lies, the arrogant complacencies, the weak-kneed evasions. They offer 500 examples of resistance’ –
‘Neil Astley’s indispensable, endlessly surprising trilogy… The newest and last of these [
] contains all the manifold virtues of the earlier two: another startlingly varied, unexpected and entirely accessible collection of contemporary poems – 500 per volume, no small undertaking – exploring the stuff of life, what Louis MacNeice called “
this mad weir of tigerish waters
A prism of delight and pain
‘Usually if you say a book is “inspirational” that means it’s New Agey and soft at the center. This astonishingly rich anthology, by contrast, shows that what is edgy, authentic and provocative can also awaken the spirit and make its readers quick with consciousness. In these pages I discovered many new writers, and I’ve decided I’m now in love with our troublesome epoch if it can produce poems of such genius’ –
is a blessing of a book. The title says it all. I have long waited for just this kind of setting down of poems – and the way they work together is wonderful – all come together to talk at the same table. Has there ever been such a passionate anthology? These are poems that hunt you down with the solace of their recognition’ –
‘A book that travels everywhere with me…It is full of beautiful writing that can blow your mind’ –
‘Hopefully, books like this will put poetry back into the mainstream’ –
(1988) by Carles Fargas