Inspired by a remark of Seamus Heaney, Lifesaving Poems began life as notebook, then a blog. How many poems, Heaney wondered, was it possible to recall responding to, over a lifetime? Was it ten, he asked, twenty, fifty, a hundred, or more?
Lifesaving Poems is a way of trying to answer that question.
Giving himself the constraint of choosing no more than one poem per poet, Anthony Wilson began copying poems out, one at a time, as it were for safekeeping. He asked himself: was the poem one he could recall being moved by the moment he first read it? And: could he live without it?
Then he posted each poem on his blog and said why he liked it. Word spread and soon his blog had thousands of followers, everyone reading and responding to the poems he talked about – and sharing his posts.
Now Lifesaving Poems has turned into an anthology, not one designed to be a perfect list of 'the great and the good', but a gathering of poems he happens to feel passionate about, according to his tastes. As Billy Collins says: 'Good poems are poems that I like'. Anthony’s popular personal commentaries are included with the poems.
There are Lifesaving Poems by John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Raymond Carver, Carol Ann Duffy, Thom Gunn, Seamus Heaney, Marie Howe, Jaan Kaplinski, Brendan Kennelly, Jane Kenyon, Galway Kinnell, Philip Levine, Norman MacCaig, Ian McMillan, Derek Mahon, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Jo Shapcott, Tomas Tranströmer, Wislawa Szymborska, and many, many others.