Staying Alive - Neil Astley
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. The Staying Alive trilogy of anthologies have introduced many thousands of new readers to contemporary poetry.
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), completed this poetry trilogy. Essential Poems from the Staying Alive Trilogy (2012) selects 100 poems from all three anthologies, a third from each. These anthologies have been welcomed not only by poets but by a wide range of well-known people respected for their work in fields other than poetry – all avid readers of poetry. They want to recommend these books above all other anthologies of contemporary poetry.
‘Truly startling and powerful poems.’ – Mia Farrow
‘These poems distil the human heart as nothing else… Staying Alive celebrates the point of poetry. It’s invigorating and makes me proud of being human.’ – Jane Campion
‘Staying Alive is a blessing of a book. The title says it all. I have long waited for just this kind of setting down of poems. Has there ever been such a passionate anthology? These are poems that hunt you down with the solace of their recognition.’ – Anne Michaels
‘Staying Alive 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.’ – Philip Pullman
‘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.’ – Edmund White
‘Staying Alive is a wonderful testament to Neil Astley’s lifetime in poetry, and to the range and courage of his taste. It’s also, of course, a testament to poetry itself: to its powers to engross and move us, to its ability to challenge and brace us, and to its exultation. Everyone who cares about poetry should own this book.’ – Andrew Motion