Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times

by Neil Astley

Paperback, 2003




New York : Miramax Books, 2003.


An anthology of five hundred contemporary poems explores themes of passion, spirituality, death, and friendship, in a collection that includes contributions by such writers as Mary Oliver, W. H. Auden, and Maya Angelou.

User reviews

LibraryThing member bezoar44
This anthology of modern poetry is both a curious exercise in marketing (the close-up photo on the cover has nothing to do with any of the poems, but presumably makes the book more accessible for readers in their teens and twenties); and a very strong anthology of contemporary poems. There are famous authors and poems in this collection - Robert Frost, 'Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening'; Stevie Smith, 'Not Waving but Drowning'; Dylan Thomas, 'Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night' - but most of the poets are people I've either never heard of or never read, making this volume a great entry-point to their work. The editing is sensitive and inspired, placing poems next to each other in ways that create additional resonances. Sometimes the juxtaposition reveals the way one poem was inspired by or conceived explicitly as a response to another; in other cases, pairings let the reader compare two ways of experiencing or expressing the same emotion or situation. Yet, the editing is not heavy-handed; chapter introductions provide helpful information about many of the poems, but you can read just the poems and come away enlivened. Some poems in this collection that were new to me and that I really liked include: Robert Hayden, 'Those Winter Sundays'; Billy Collins, 'Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes'; Sharon Olds, 'True Love'; Fleur Adcock, 'For a Five Year Old'; Derek Mahon, 'Antarctica'; and Miroslav Holub, 'Brief Reflection on Accuracy'.… (more)
LibraryThing member keely_chace
This fabulous anthology turned me on to several poets I hadn't read before. I enjoyed the broad range of poets and styles Astley includes, along with his thematic groupings, which give gentle order to the collection and help to make the whole more than the sum of its parts.
LibraryThing member Crowyhead
An amazing collection, truly worth its title.

"And the Days Are Not Full Enough"

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass.

- Ezra Pound
LibraryThing member Telute
A very good anthology of modern poetry. Arranged by themes with introductory essays this is a superb introduction to poetry and a good anthology for those times when taking a whole shelf of volumes just isn't practical. Great for dipping into.
LibraryThing member Feastsandfestivals
The perfect poetry anthology for the bedside table. This is a book to pick up for a few moments every day, there will be something to calm you or warm you or give you goosebumps. Staying Alive reminds you of one of the reasons that poetry exists - to capture that fleeting moment and pin it in your memory forever.
LibraryThing member shanaqui
I haven't read all these poems yet, but I love the way it's in sections and the range of what's collected here. There's a range of themes, it's not all any one kind of poetry or topic. I don't like all of the poems, but I like the fact that they're all here, for me to experience.
LibraryThing member Xleptodactylous
If anyone ever reviews the poems inside an anthology you should disregard it completely. I discovered my favourite poem within these pages, yet the entire collection was not to my taste. That is poetry.
LibraryThing member debnance
I saw this on a recommended book list (Best Books of the Decade, I think). It is a lovely collection of poems. Lots of my favorites here. I’m adding this book to my wishlist at Amazon when I turn this copy back into the library.



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