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 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 Transtromer, Wislawa Szymborska, and many, many others.
Anthony Wilson is a poet, writing tutor and Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter. His anthology Lifesaving Poems - based on his popular blog - is published by Bloodaxe in 2015. His own books of poetry are Riddance (Worple Press, 2012), Full Stretch: Poems 1996-2006 (Worple Press, 2006), Nowhere Better Than This (Worple Press, 2002) and How Far From Here is Home? (Stride, 1996). His memoir of cancer Love for Now (Impress Books) was published in 2012. Anthony has held writing residencies at The Poetry Society, The Times Educational Supplement, Apples and Snakes, Tate Britain, and The Poetry Trust, for whom he was the 2014 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Blogger.