Being Alive is the sequel to Neil Astley’s Staying Alive, which became Britain’s most popular poetry book because it gave readers hundreds of thoughtful and passionate poems about living in the modern world. Now he has assembled this equally lively companion anthology for all those readers who’ve wanted more poems that touch the heart, stir the mind and fire the spirit. Being Alive is about being human: about love and loss, fear and longing, hurt and wonder.
Staying Alive didn’t just reach a broader readership, it introduced thousands of new readers to contemporary poetry, giving them an international gathering of poems of great personal force, poems with emotional power, intellectual edge and playful wit. It also brought many readers back to poetry, people who hadn’t read poetry for years because it hadn’t held their interest. Being Alive gives readers an even wider selection of vivid, brilliantly diverse contemporary poetry from around the world. Being Alive was followed by a companion anthology, Being Human (2011), and by a fourth volume, Staying Human: new poems for Staying Alive (2020). 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.
'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.
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