Soul Food is a feast of thoughtful poems to stir the mind and feed the spirit. Drawn from many traditions, ranging from Rumi, Kabir and Blake, to Rilke, Emily Dickinson and Paul Celan, this wide-ranging selection includes enormously varied work by celebrated contemporary poets such as Jane Hirshfield, Denise Levertov, Thomas Merton and Mary Oliver, as well as by many lesser-known writers from all periods and places.
The anthology opens with a series of poems on human life and spiritual sustenance, starting with Rumi: ‘This being human is a guest house. / Each morning a new arrival…’ The poems which follow explore many ways of keeping body and soul together, offering food for thought on knowing yourself, living with nature, who or what is God… All are universal illuminations of the meaning of life, speaking to readers of all faiths as well as to searchers and non-believers. Soul Food shows how poetry can help feed our hunger for meaning in times of spiritual starvation.
Soul Food includes Anna Akhmatova, Maya Angelou, Coleman Barks, William Blake, John Burnside, Paul Celan, Chuang-Tzu, Emily Dickinson, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jane Hirshfield, George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Kabir, Jane Kenyon, Lal Ded (Lalla), DH Lawrence, Denise Levertov, Thomas Merton, Czeslaw Milosz, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, Amrita Pritam, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rumi, St John of the Cross, Edith Södergran, Anna Swir, Wislawa Szymborska, Shinkichi Takahashi, RS Thomas, and many others…
'These poems illuminate the path of life.' - Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times
'These are poems for the human race at all times, be they celebratory or reflective.' - Margaret Speak, Yorkshire Post
'These poems will reconnect you with happiness, kindness, beauty and joy. They will teaqch you how to be here, now, fully aware and alive... Buy this book! You will be investing in happiness for days - and even dark lonely nights - to come.' - Anne Ashworth, Universalist: The Journal of the Quaker Universalist Group
'A friend gave me a copy of Soul Food as a gift... I thought it was so good that I gave it away to another friend within a matter of days, and bought myself a new copy, which I also gave away... I continue to buy copies for friends... I have read this book through from beginning to end a number of times now, and each time I am left with my spirit uplifted and a wondrous sense of warm joy in my soul. Not only is each poem fine, but reading the whole collection reads feels like the privilege of sharing another human's spiritual journey for a while.' - Henry Morgan, The Merton Journal
'Soul Food is an extremely attractive book. Of all the books lying about my house, more visitors have been drawn to wanting to borrow this than any other... It contains work by many of my favourite poets, but more importantly it whets my appetite with new discoveries... I recommend buying copies to keep and give away.' - Chris Kinsey, Envoi
‘Soul Food, like another Bloodaxe anthology, Do Not Go Gentle: poems for funerals, captures the elusive overlapping oval in the Venn diagram of poetry-that-is-serious and poetry-that-breaks-your-heart.’ – Martin Wroe, Church Times
'Three books that come immediately to mind as gifts are the Soul Food anthology, edited by Neil Astley and Pamela Robertson[-Pearce], because it contains such a diversity of works for an exploring mind to consider; A S J Tessimond's Collected Poems - poetry that wants to fly, strains upward hopefully, but always is anchored in dark reality; and Mary Oliver's Thirst.' - Ruth Baxendale, Poetry News (Christmas Books 2018)