Paul Francis is a retired teacher, living in Much Wenlock, who has been a member of Bridgnorth Writers’ Group since 1998. He’s a versatile writer who’s written plays, an autobiography and a novel, but who now mainly concentrates on poetry. He writes in a variety of forms, some of them regular, and ranges widely in length, tone and subject matter – including political satire.
He’s won three national competitions, and was placed in the top three of the Guernsey On the Move competition in 2010, 2014 and 2015. In 2020 his poem Short-term Investment came second (out of 2,300 entries) in the Beyond the Storm poetry competition, in support of the NHS. He was awarded third prize in the Waltraud Field competition, and had poems included in the Culture Matters and Black Lives Matter anthologies.
In 2021 he was joint third in the Bishops Castle poetry competition with his poem Hope Springs Eternal, and Emergency Powers was been selected for inclusion in the Shoestring Press anthology, Poems for the Year 2020, edited by Merryn Williams.
Before that, his most recent full collection was Sonnets with notes (Liberty Books, 2019), but he’s also published a range of topical pamphlets. He’s heavily involved in the West Midlands poetry performance circuit, taking part in readings at Shrewsbury, Ludlow, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Burton and Lichfield, and was the Wenlock Poetry Festival poet-in-residence in 2016. During three months of lockdown in 2020, he wrote and posted a sonnet a day on his website, www.paulfranciswrites.co.uk This sequence was published as Turning off the news.
This is one of the poems in Sonnets with notes:
The Pull of Philosophy
Philosophers are nimble, show no fear
except on dance-floors. Camus is a wreck.
Algerian outsider – who’d choose him?
Like some myopic hamster, Jean-Paul Sartre
emerges, blinking, though the lights are dim.
The grail, for all of them, is Juliette:
that long straight hair, that plain wool turtleneck.
Black symmetry, unutterably cool.
But here comes Merleau-Ponty. He can glide
like silk across a nightclub in Montmartre.
What’s going on?...It can’t be…at his side
is Juliette, recruited to his school.
Hand on his shoulder, whispers in his ear
With existentialism, what I don’t get…