Books for Independent Thinkers

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Soul Food is a feast of thoughtful poems to stir the mind and feed the spirit.

Drawn from many traditions, ranging from Rumi, Kabir and Blake, to Rilke, Emily Dickinson and Paul Celan, this wide-ranging selection includes enormously varied work by celebrated contemporary poets such as Jane Hirshfield, Denise Levertov, Thomas Merton and Mary Oliver, as well as by many lesser-known writers from all periods and places.

The anthology opens with a series of poems on human life and spiritual sustenance, starting with Rumi:

‘This being human is a guest house. / Each morning a new arrival…’

The poems which follow explore many ways of keeping body and soul together, offering food for thought on knowing yourself, living with nature, who or what is God… All are universal illuminations of the meaning of life, speaking to readers of all faiths as well as to searchers and non-believers. Soul Food shows how poetry can help feed our hunger for meaning in times of spiritual starvation.

Soul Food includes Anna Akhmatova, Maya Angelou, Coleman Barks, William Blake, John Burnside, Paul Celan, Chuang-Tzu, Emily Dickinson, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jane Hirshfield, George Herbert, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Kabir, Jane Kenyon, Lal Ded (Lalla), DH Lawrence, Denise Levertov, Thomas Merton, Czeslaw Milosz, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, Amrita Pritam, Rainer Maria Rilke, Rumi, St John of the Cross, Edith Södergran, Anna Swir, Wislawa Szymborska, Shinkichi Takahashi, RS Thomas, and many others…

"These poems illuminate the path of life"
Rachel Campbell-Johnston, The Times

Neil Astley is editor of Bloodaxe Books, which he founded in 1978. His books include two poetry collections and several anthologies, plus two novels, The End of My Tether (Flambard, 2002), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award, and The Sheep Who Changed the World (Flambard, 2005). He received an Eric Gregory Award for his poetry and was given a D.Litt from Newcastle University for his work with Bloodaxe Books. He lives in Northumberland.

Pamela Robertson-Pearce is an award-winning artist and filmmaker. She has shown her work in solo exhibitions in New York and Provincetown, and in various group shows in the US and Europe. Born in Stockholm, she grew up in Sweden, Spain and England, then lived mostly in America - also working in Switzerland, Norway and Albania - before moving to Northumberland.

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Soul Food: Nourishing Poems for Starved Minds