sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

Posts tagged ‘Denise Levertov’

Make Visible: Staying Alive: Book Review


I don’t often write book reviews.  I must recommend, highly, this collection of poetry:  Staying Alive:  Real Poems for Unreal Times edited by Neil Astley.  The poetry collection was published by Miramax Books originally in 2002.

41pKDDpQnsL._SX292_BO1,204,203,200_--Staying Alive - Anne

The poems contained are in several categories:

Body and Soul,
Dead or Alive,
Growing up,
Man and beast,
In and out of love,
My people,
War and peace,
Disappearing acts,
[Me, the Earth, the Universe],
and the Art of poetry.

While the editor seems to like poetry with meter, there are plenty of un-rhyming poems in the collection as well.  Although there are a few classic authors included; the collection is comprised of mostly contemporary poets, including international ones.

It’s just a beautiful book that one can dip into and find a gem on almost every page.  I’ve read it once through and am slowly reading it again and marking which are my favorites.  Staying Alive is 496 pages long, so this should take me awhile!

You can buy it from Amazon here:

For an example, here are the first two poems, two of my favorites:

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


Living by Denise Levertov

The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.



“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

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