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Astley Staying Human

Neil Astley: Staying Human – New Poems for Staying Alive

16th October 2020, 4:00 pm-5:00 pm
Zoom Webinar

Bloodaxe Editor Neil Astley presents a reading from Staying Human, the latest addition to his hugely popular Staying Alive series of world poetry anthologies. For this very special reading Neil will be joined by superb poets David Constantine and Imtiaz Dharker

This event is sponsored by Longridge Towers School Click for more information



This session is presented in association with the Berwick Educational Association (click for further information)

This session is also presented in association with Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts (click for further information)


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 (who attended a reading by Neil in New York) commenting on two of the earlier anthologies in the series.


Neil Astley is the editor of Bloodaxe Books which he founded in 1978. His books include many anthologies, most notably those in the Staying Alive series: Staying Alive (2002), Being Alive (2004), Being Human (2011) and Staying Human (2020), along with three collaborations with Pamela Robertson-Pearce, Soul Food and the DVD-books In Person: 30 Poets and In Person: World Poets. He received an Eric Gregory Award for his poetry, and has published two poetry collections, Darwin Survivor and Biting My Tongue, as well as two novels, The End of My Tether (shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award), and The Sheep Who Changed the World. He was given a D.Litt from Newcastle University for his work with Bloodaxe Books in 1995; is a patron and past trustee of Ledbury Poetry Festival; and was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018. He lives in the Tarset valley in Northumberland.

Bloodaxe Books website: www.bloodaxebooks.com

Read about Staying Human  

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David Constantine has published several volumes of poetry, two novels (most recently The Life-Writer) and six short story collections, including Tea at the Midland (which won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award in 2013), The Dressing-Up Box and In Another Country: Selected Stories (2015). His title-story ‘Tea at the Midland’ won the 2010 National Short Story Award while ‘In Another Country’ was adapted into 45 Years – an Oscar-nominated film, directed by Andrew Haigh and starring Tom Courtenay and Charlotte Rampling. His Collected Poems (2004) was followed by three later collections from Bloodaxe, Nine Fathom Deep (2009), Elder (2014), and Belongings, published in October. With his wife Helen, David edited Modern Poetry in Translation for many years. He is also translator of Hölderlin, Brecht, Goethe, Kleist, Michaux and Jaccottet. He lives in Oxford.


Imtiaz Dharker grew up a Muslim Calvinist in a Lahori household in Glasgow, was adopted by India and married into Wales. She is an accomplished artist and documentary film-maker, and has published six books with Bloodaxe, Postcards from god (including Purdah) (1997), I Speak for the Devil (2001), The terrorist at my table (2006), Leaving Fingerprints (2009), Over the Moon (2014) and Luck Is the Hook (2018). All her poetry collections are illustrated with her drawings, which form an integral part of the books; she is one of very few poet-artists to work in this way. She was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry for 2014, presented to her by The Queen in 2015. Also in 2015 she appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. Her poems are on the British GCSE and A Level English syllabus, and she reads with other poets at Poetry Live! events all over the country to more than 25,000 students a year. She was appointed Chancellor of Newcastle University in January 2020.