Poetry Book Society Special Commendation
Staying Human is the latest addition to Bloodaxe's Staying Alive series of world poetry anthologies which have introduced many thousands of new readers to contemporary poetry. This fourth volume in the series offers poetry lovers an even broader, international selection of 500 more ‘real poems for unreal times’.
The range of poetry here complements that of the first three anthologies: hundreds of thoughtful and powerful poems about living in the modern world; poems that touch the heart, stir the mind and fire the spirit; poems about what makes us human, about love and loss, fear and longing, hurt and wonder; talismanic poems which have become personal survival testaments for many.
There’s a strong focus on the human side of living in the 21st century in poems from the past two decades relating to migration, oppression, alienation and the individual’s struggle to hold on, stay connected and find meaning in an increasingly polarised world.
Staying Human also draws on poems suggested by readers because they’ve been so important in their own lives, as well as many poems which have gone viral after being shared on social media because they speak to our times with such great immediacy. And there are poems from around the world written in response to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
‘Staying Human, the latest anthology of modern poetry in Neil Astley’s Staying Alive series, and its companion volumes, should be prescribed on the NHS.’ – Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, The Guardian
'The word ‘anthologia’ is Greek for a collection of flowers or beautiful things - thus we have the delight of poetry anthologies, perfect for Christmas presents. 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
‘Staying Human is the fourth such anthology compiled by Neil Astley, editor of Bloodaxe Books, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a brilliant gathering of hundreds of vital, memorable poems, thoughtfully ordered. Give this to your friend/relative who thinks they “don’t do poetry.”’ – Rosie Miles, Morning Star (Best Poetry of 2020)
‘For all anthology lovers this 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. Lots of familiar voices, including many Irish voices, but full of surprises too. Strongly recommended.’ - Peter Sirr and Enda Wyley, Books for Breakfast podcast hosts, Our City Our Books (Top 10 Poetry Books of 2020) on Staying Human
‘I’ve also found comfort in poetry, returning often to the wonderful trilogy of Bloodaxe anthologies, Staying Alive, Being Alive and Being Human, which contain multitudes and consolation for every mood. There’s a new volume just out, Staying Human, that includes poems written in the pandemic, and I’m crossing my fingers I might find it under the tree come Christmas morning. - Nancy Groves, HuffPost UK (The Brilliant Books That Got Us Through 2020)
‘Poetry may not change or cure anything – it is not a vaccine – but it can find its way into the bloodstream and make life more tolerable, less painful, more meaningful, less angst-ridden, more contented. That, at least, is the belief of Neil Astley who, perhaps more than anyone in this contaminated and confused planet, has introduced poetry to people who hitherto had dismissed it as irrelevant…. With its emphasis on poets first published this century, Staying Human – a snip at £12.99 – is testimony that in these sick and troubling times, poetry is in resilient health. Spread the word.’ – Rosemary Goring, The Herald Scotland
'Staying Human is the fourth of Neil Astley’s block-busting and best-selling Staying Alive anthologies of “real poems for unreal times.” Bloodaxe has done more than any publisher over the last 40 years to internationalise, democratise and diversify the British poetry scene. Their list is wide and their anthologies are packed with unexpected and new voices. This one includes over 500 poems from all over the world…. It’s a collection dedicated to exploring shared identities, understanding collective problems and addressing common enemies.’ - Andy Croft, Morning Star