Inside Lifesaving Poems


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 since.

The book is an anthology, therefore, but also has elements of autobiography and literary criticism. Perhaps it is all three. I am looking forward to hearing what you make of it.



You can buy Lifesaving Poems from Amazon here, order it from Inpress here, or from Waterstones here.

You can also order signed copies from me directly.

The best way to do this is via my Facebook page. NB You will need a PayPal account to do this.

Message me with the email that is linked to your PayPal account, which I will then use to request the amount required. Each book is £12. Postage for one book is £1.52 ; postage for two books is £2.80; postage for three books is also £2.80 (all prices UK only, second class).

Or there are good old cheques. Use the contact form or email address on my Contact pages to get in touch and we can go from there.



  1. Could you tell me if you are likely to do a book-signing at Exeter’s Waterstones (John Lewis end of High Street)? Alternatively could you supply them with signed copies? Just wondering. I’d possibly buy two. Thanks Norah Carrington



    1. Hello Norah

      I am not planning on reading in Waterstones (High St) until the autumn, on National Poetry Day with Lawrence Sail.
      If you want a signed copy or two in the meantime that is fine -just send me a message via my Facebook page -instructions on this post at the bottom and also on the bottom of the front page of by blog. As ever with good wishes and thanks, Anthony


  2. I love the format of this book. Why? There are some poems I fall in love with at first sight. But there are others that I seem to need a little encouragement to get to know. An introduction from someone I trust. Another way in. It doesn’t always work, but many of the poems that fall under the warm glow of Anthony’s enthusiasm and engaging stories have joined my circle of loved poems too.

    I wish there were more poetry books like this, and they are increasing. Neil Astley’s introduction to each section of the Staying Alive trilogy helped me to feel that connection. Anthony and Ben’s Holden’s Poems that Make Grown Men Cry has 100 stories of a personal relationship to a poem. This is a great addition to this (hopefully) growing tradition.

    xx Rionach

    Liked by 1 person

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