This isn’t just a collection of perfectly executed verse, nor is it just a wonderfully varied array of incisive poems that peer closely at those nuggets of history and newspaper clippings which have caught this poet’s eye.
This collection is important and urgent.
It is a clamour of wronged voices.
It’s a place where seemingly unrelated events reveal themselves to be the exact opposite of that, linking up to show us what is wrong with the world. It is a record of things that should never be forgotten. It is also a reminder that where there is humanity there is hope.
Emma Purshouse ~ performance poet, novelist
Francis is an unfashionable kind of witness.
His subject is politicised human experiences – he tells the stories of people whose lives and actions find their way into the news or into popular debate.
His verse is clear and narrative. The style is almost reportage.
What this book offers is something which, not long ago, was ubiquitous but has retreated from view so fast that, perhaps, it now requires preservation: an idealistic global view from a place of comfort, or at least safety; a view of the cruelties of unfolding history from one that history has largely spared.
The poems have strong virtues: they are humane, full of a commitment to the welfare of others; they emerge from a belief that understanding can emerge from a sincere effort at imaginative empathy.
Tom Sastry ~ poet
About Paul Francis:
Paul Francis is a retired teacher, living in Much Wenlock. He is a versatile writer who has won two national play-writing competitions, as well as publishing a novel and an autobiography. He has written extensively on education, and has been a prolific writer of materials for secondary school pupils.
In poetry, he has won three national poetry competitions, and been placed (second or third) in three others. He is active in the West Midlands poetry scene, regularly reading at a wide variety of venues, and he was poet in residence at the Wenlock Poetry Festival, 2016. In 2020 he wrote a sonnet a day during lockdown, published on his website www.paulfranciswrites.co.uk, and subsequently as Turning Off the News (2020).
The First Poem in the Collection:
Gently, as if he were an injured child,
Patrick scoops up this isolated man
and carries him to safety, while his friends
(a rugby pack who’ve planned a line-out move)
provide protection, give him breathing space.
No time to think. Do what you’ve got to do.
The man they save is racist, white but this
is no self-sacrifice. It’s not for him.
We did it for our kids. We leave him there
he dies, and we know what the judge will say.
Some black boys kill a white man, no-one cares
about what happened first. They think ahead
for others; they take action, as a team.
Police do that, and George Floyd’s still alive.