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. 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.
'This is a book to make you fall in love with poetry - Go out and buy it for everyone you love' - Christina Patterson, Independent. 'A revelation - An anthology like this should make poetry reviewers feel not just enthusiastic but evangelical. Buy it. Leave it around the house. Give it to friends. It could keep them alive' - John Carey, Sunday Times. 'Anyone who has the faintest glimmer of interest in modern poetry must buy it. If I were master of the universe or held the lottery's purse strings, there would be a copy of it in every school, public library and hotel bedroom in the land. On page after page I found myself laughing, crying, wondering, rejoicing, reliving, wishing, envying. It is a book full of hope and high art which restores your faith in poetry' - Alan Taylor, Sunday Herald. 'The book is without equal as a handbook for students and readers' - Sian Hughes, Times Educational Supplement. 'The best anthology I've read or am likely to read - devastating' - Michael Colgan, Irish Times (Books of the Year). 'I don't often read poetry, so Staying Alive was a revelation' - Ian Rankin, Sunday Telegraph (Books of the Year). 'A book that travels everywhere with me - It is full of beautiful writing that can blow your mind' - Beth Orton, The Times.
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