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Staying Human | Bloodaxe Books
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Neil Astley

Staying Human

new poems for Staying Alive

Neil Astley

Publication Date : 01 Oct 2020

ISBN: 9781780373904

Pages: 65
Size :216 x 138mm
Rights: World

Poetry Book Society Special Commendation

Staying Human is the latest addition to Bloodaxe's Staying Alive series of world poetry anthologies which have introduced many thousands of new readers to contemporary poetry. This fourth volume in the series offers poetry lovers an even broader, international selection of 500 more ‘real poems for unreal times’.

The range of poetry here complements that of the first three anthologies: hundreds of thoughtful and powerful poems about living in the modern world; poems that touch the heart, stir the mind and fire the spirit; poems about what makes us human, about love and loss, fear and longing, hurt and wonder; talismanic poems which have become personal survival testaments for many.   

There’s a strong focus on the human side of living in the 21st century in poems from the past two decades relating to migration, oppression, alienation and the individual’s struggle to hold on, stay connected and find meaning in an increasingly polarised world.

Staying Human also draws on poems suggested by readers because they’ve been so important in their own lives, as well as many poems which have gone viral after being shared on social media because they speak to our times with such great immediacy. And there are poems from around the world written in response to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.

‘Poetry may not change or cure anything – it is not a vaccine – but it can find its way into the bloodstream and make life more tolerable, less painful, more meaningful, less angst-ridden, more contented. That, at least, is the belief of Neil Astley who, perhaps more than anyone in this contaminated and confused planet, has introduced poetry to people who hitherto had dismissed it as irrelevant…. With its emphasis on poets first published this century, Staying Human – a snip at £12.99 – is testimony that in these sick and troubling times, poetry is in resilient health. Spread the word.’ – Rosemary Goring, The Herald Scotland

Staying Human is the fourth of Neil Astley’s block-busting and best-selling Staying Alive anthologies of “real poems for unreal times.”  Bloodaxe has done more than any publisher over the last 40 years to internationalise, democratise and diversify the British poetry scene. Their list is wide and their anthologies are packed with unexpected and new voices. This one includes over 500 poems from all over the world…. It’s a collection dedicated to exploring shared identities, understanding collective problems and addressing common enemies.’ - Andy Croft, Morning Star

'The spectrum of experience captured is also vast, but what holds the anthology together and its real strength is the extreme attentiveness to how the poems are put together. Astley is minutely aware of how one poem’s themes and mood will melt into the next, the poem complementing or clashing meaningfully with the following. Whether it’s repetition of a turn of phrase or an image, or emotions which enact a sort of call and response or echo with one another, the collection runs like a symphony with repeated strains and new notes being brought in. Anthologizing like this is skilful and rare.  ‘Staying Human’ is the fourth in its series, and they’re all staggering in their contents and compilation. But now more than ever: we don’t just need to stay alive, we need to stay human.' - Oxford Poetry Library, Book of the Month

‘First published nearly two decades ago, Staying Alive redefined the poetry landscape, offering an international anthology of some 500 poems that captured all of life’s highs and lows. Since then, Being Alive (2004) and Being Human (2011) have completed this epic poetic trilogy, published by Bloodaxe Books and edited by Neil Astley, which introduced readers to hundreds of poets and their work. Now, a fourth anthology will be added to the collection in October – Staying Human – a timely collection, speaking of some of the most important issues and concerns of the present day.' – Jade Craddock, NB Magazine

'If ever there was a need for something to boost our spirits, surely it is now. In the nick of time, then, comes Staying Human, the new (and fatter) Bloodaxe Books anthology.' – David Whetstone, The Journal (Newcastle)

 

Comments on Staying Alive:

‘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

‘Truly startling and powerful poems’ – Mia Farrow

Staying Alive is a blessing of a book…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 book which leaves those who have read or heard a poem from it feeling less alone and more alive’ – John Berger

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

 

Comments on Being Alive:

‘I love Staying Alive and keep going back to it. Being Alive 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’ – Meryl Streep

‘These poems remind us of what we have felt yet never fully articulated, what we have dreamt yet never believed entirely possible. Perhaps most importantly, the poems in here tell us there is nothing more powerful than language when its agenda is to reveal rather than to conceal or distort’ – Kamila Shamsie

'Hopefully, books like this will put poetry back into the mainstream' – Van Morrison

 

Comments on Being Human:

'Astley is wonderful at selecting poems with the kind of talismanic lines that really speak to people... Not only are the poems clustered by broad theme, with a lively introduction to each section by Astley, but within those groupings they speak to each other, in substance or across time…This collection certainly continues the excellent work of its predecessors, bringing new work and poets to audiences, and drawing new readers to poetry, and at a mere £12 for 500 poems, no one will be deterred from taking a risk. Being Human is stimulating, inspiring, intelligent, witty and life-affirming, the perfect companion on a journey, literal and otherwise' – Peggy Hughes, Scotland on Sunday

'This is not one of those controversial "best of" anthologies but one that expands our definition of greatness to encompass a multiplicity of styles, voices and cultures. Astley aims to introduce poetry to new readers and new poets to seasoned readers. It is difficult to imagine all but the most hardened philistines not being touched and inspired by this wonderful assembly of poems' – Bernardine Evaristo, The Times

 

Eleven poets included in Staying Human read short excerpts from their poems in the book: Tishani Doshi (extract from ‘Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods’), Wayne Holloway-Smith (from ‘The posh mums are boxing in the square’), Ruth Stone, 1915-2011 (from ‘The Excuse’), Jane Clarke (from ‘Who owns the field?’), Marie Howe (from ‘One day’), Jericho Brown (from ‘As a Human Being’), Elizabeth Alexander (from ‘Smile’), Patricia Smith (from ‘That Chile Emmett in That Casket’), Abigail Parry (from ‘The Quilt’), Louis de Paor (from ‘Marmalade’), and Thomas Lux, 1946-2017 (from ‘Refrigerator, 1957’), finishing with Jericho Brown speaking at Ledbury Poetry Festival about being first published in the UK in the previous anthology, Being Human.

 

USA: Click here to order from Indiebound or Bookshop.org

  

BOOKS BY Neil Astley

Being Alive

Neil Astley

Being Alive

the sequel to Staying Alive

Publication Date : 28 Oct 2004

Read More   amazon.co.uk
Being Human

Neil Astley

Being Human

the companion anthology to Staying Alive and Being Alive

Publication Date : 30 Mar 2011

Read More   amazon.co.uk
Do Not Go Gentle

Neil Astley

Do Not Go Gentle

Poems for Funerals

Publication Date : 25 Sep 2003

Read More   amazon.co.uk
Earth Shattering

Neil Astley

Earth Shattering

ecopoems

Publication Date : 31 Oct 2007

Read More   amazon.co.uk

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Related News & Publicity

News & Publicity


Neil Astley's Staying Human anthology: interviews, reviews & poem features

Neil Astley's Staying Human anthology: interviews, reviews & poem features

Interview with Neil Astley; review in The Herald & poem features for Staying Human, the fourth in his Staying Alive series; Oxford Poetry Library's Book of the Month f...

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Poetry Events


Staying Human anthology launch events

Staying Human anthology launch events

Recordings of 31 poems from Staying Human, the fourth in the Staying Alive series, were made by readers across England for Birmingham Literature to mark publication - ...

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