Us and Them – The War on Terror (in error) – Paul Francis

This is the third publication in three years from Paul, who is prominent on the Midlands and Borders poetry circuit. A retired schoolteacher from Shropshire, he attends, and performs, at Slams , festivals , and conventional readings , as well as running workshops, and is Poet in Residence for next year’s Wenlock Poetry Festival at which he is the reigning Slam Champion.

The poems in this collection reflect back over the past fourteen years, and examine how terrorism, and our response to it, has evolved over that period.
His anchor poem, The Ballad of Shaker Aamer, assumes a greater poignancy now that, subsequent to publication, Aamer has been released ( although Paul will claim no credit for this!). It is a piece he has performed on many occasions, and has the feel of a Bob Dylan protest song. Yet this is no retrospective. Brothers on the Beach, about the Tunisia beach massacre brings us right up to date, rightly questioning how abandoning their tourist industry will help stop the tide of fanatical angry jihadists.

Mainly, his poems rhyme, echoing the political ballads of the 18th and 19th century, juxtaposing a traditional, insistent rhythm, with modern content. The language is relaxed, conversational, with its share of slang. This is no didactic rant, but a conversation. A conversation along the lines of- have you thought? About irrational fear? About surrendering our rights? About why the young can be radicalised? About whether the Government is a greater threat to our schools than Muslim fundamentalists? About what freedom means?

Paul writes as easily in rhyming couplets as he does in sonnets. You won’t find a sonnet sequence on terror anywhere else! Those who prefer their poetry about birds and meadows will find familiar form on unfamiliar territory. Those who like their poetry to be contemporary will warm to uncomfortable themes, well told.

Copies are available from: Liberty Books. Much Wenlock, TF13 6JQ,priced £
See Paul’s

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