Neil Astley’s serious and inspiring Staying Human follows the deserved success of Staying Alive, Being Alive and Being Human - all invigorating, essential collections.' - Bel Mooney, Daily Mail, Christmas Books 2020
The fourth volume in Neil Astley’s Staying Alive series of world poetry anthologies was published on National Poetry Day, 1 October 2020. It was launched online at Berwick Literary Festival on 16 October, and a series of recordings were shared by Birmingham Literature Festival each day during October. All 31 poems are now on Soundcloud here.
Staying Human is companion volume to the earlier books in the series, Staying Alive (2002), Being Alive (2004) and Being Human (2011), but it can also stand alone. The series has had many high-profile admirers over the years, including Meryl Streep, Mia Farrow, Helena Bonham Carter, Jane Campion, Beth Orton, Philip Pullman, Kamila Shamsie and Bernardine Evaristo, among others.
Sunday 28th February 2021, 4.00pm-5.00pm, Kendal Poetry Festival
Staying Human anthology: Neil Astley in conversation with Clare Shaw
The Staying Alive series of Bloodaxe anthologies - Staying Alive (2002), Being Alive (2004), Being Human (2011) and Staying Human (2020) – have been a huge presence in the British poetry scene for almost two decades. Their editor (and founder editor of Bloodaxe) Neil Astley will read from Staying Human, taking questions and requests from an online audience while exploring the fascinating history of the anthologies and their profound relevance to these times. He'll be in conversation with poet and Kendal Poetry Festival Co-Director Clare Shaw,
To celebrate the launch of the Staying Human poetry anthology, Writing West Midlands teamed up with six other regional development agencies and Birmingham Literature Festival to create a playlist of poems from the anthology read aloud in the voices and accents of their regions.
Thirty-one poems from Staying Human have been selected - one for each day of October - and readers across England were invited to record a reading. The recordings were shared through a Soundcloud playlist each day during October.
The final playlist celebrates the wide array of wonderful poetry and poets included in the anthology, a daily reminder of the power of connection and humanity in these uncertain times.
Click here for details, and to listen to the playlist of 31 poems.
Neil Astley: Staying Human – New Poems for Staying Alive
Bloodaxe Editor Neil Astley presented a launch reading from Staying Human, the latest addition to his Staying Alive series of world poetry anthologies. He was joined by poets David Constantine and Imtiaz Dharker. Between them they read 40 poems from the anthology.
'Like so many of our sessions this year, these powerful poems – chosen by Neil to focus on poetry written over the last 20 years – held a whole new resonance and meaning in the light of recent world events.... This is a superbly curated series of ‘real poems for unreal times’ which harnesses the intensity and intimacy of living globally and individually in our world today. I can’t possibly do justice to what we experienced this afternoon in a little blogpost. I feel as if I have been washed in a visceral kaleidoscope of word sensations. A connection of countries, cultures, and creativities.' - Jackie Kaines, in her Berwick Literary Festival blog.
Film of readings by eleven of the Staying Human poets
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.
Martina Evans reads her poem 'I Want to Be like Frank O'Hara' - one of the 500 poems included in Staying Human.
Martina Evans is published by Carcanet. This film features as part of the Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Foundation's Read By series of poetry films. They have recently released films of poems by Bloodaxe poets Hannah Lowe and Wayne Holloway-Smith.