Inside Lifesaving Poems

Anthony Wilson


The central organising principle of Lifesaving Poems is that each poet is represented by a single poem. There are poets you have heard of (Carol Ann Duffy, John Ashbery, Elizabeth Bishop, Norman MacCaig) and many more that you haven’t. To me, they are all household names.

The poems are arranged in eight sections, like chapters. These take their titles from a line or phrase in the first poem of each section. For example, the first section starts with Thom Gunn’s ‘Autobiography’ and is called ‘The sniff of the real’, after the poem’s opening line. It is my hope that this gives the reader plenty of guidance, but without feeling overly programmatic.

As readers of my blog posts will know, each poem is accompanied by a short commentary explaining where and when I first came across the poem, with a short reflection on how I have continued to use it…

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