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The poetry of life, from cradle to grave –  Bernardine Evaristo

Neil Astley, the editor of this anthology and the founder-editor of Bloodaxe Books in 1978, has been a longstanding champion of the democratisation of poetry in Britain. At a time when many poetry editors still publish a narrow field of poetry, with an imbalance of white male poets and a preference for the quiet, understated, repressed voice, Astley’s poetry list is inclusive, gender balanced and international….

Astley has generally avoided poems so dense that you need to need a PhD in poetry to navigate them. Many of these poems are refreshingly direct, without ever being simplistic. Some sneer at the idea of “accessible poetry”, yet the world’s most memorable poems are just that. The oldest poet featured is Rumi, the 13th-century Persian mystic, and the newest is the Londoner Nick Makoha, who writes inBeatitude: “When a rebel leader promises you the world seen in commercials,/ he will hold a shotgun to the radio announcer’s mouth,/ and use a quilt of bristling static to muffle the tears.” In the absence of starry author bios, the poems really do have to speak for themselves — and renowned poets do not necessarily outshine those with less experience or celebrity. It’s unfair to cherry-pick a handful of poets because so many of these poems are outstanding. Only a few are bleached of character and insipid.

full article  The Times Saturday Review March 5th 2011

Being Human edited by Neil Astley: