Sonnet of the Week: Petrarch Sonnet

At the end, I go back to the beginning. Petrarch is where our sonnet story starts, and I’ve always been fascinated by the technical development, the different ways in which over time numerous poets have shaped their sonnets. I’m looking forward to discussing that at Saturday morning’s workshop.

Paul Francis



Sonnet of the Week: Coming Home

A key poem for me, because it was the first time I got national recognition for a sonnet. I’d won two local competitions, but in 2000 this poem came first in the OUSS The Sonnet at the Millennium competition, out of more than eight hundred entries. The poem was stimulated by a Don McCullin photograph of a shell-shocked soldier.

Paul Francis


Sonnet of the Week: Surveillance

In 2010 Guernsey ran a competition for “poems on the buses.” This poem, designed to be displayed and read on a bus, came third. It also started my intimate poetic relationship with  Guernsey, where I’ve been placed third, second and second in three consecutive competitions (each with different judges).

Paul Francis.


Surveillance Don’t turn around. The woman in the seat behind is known to keep eccentric pets – watch out for iguanas . Don’t repeat this, but her husband’s run up massive debts through gambling. No, I told you not to stare. Natural to feel curiosity about your fellow passengers, but there is where it ends. Top level secrecy must be maintained. The girl who’s just got on might be a terrorist, but we can’t say. Pretend you’re reading till the threat has gone. You wonder how we know all this is true. Don’t worry. That bus going the other way has got a poem on it. About you.


Sonnet of the Week: Passenger

This is a poem about a person on a bus, written for a competition which wanted poems to go inside a bus. It draws on a letter from Monica Jones to Philip Larkin, cunningly selected because Andrew Motion (Larkin’s biographer) was judging the competition. It came nowhere.

Paul Francis.

She’s sitting at the back. Inside her head she runs that clip, him stooping as they kissed.  She’s staring out at autumn drifting past, bright sunlight on the leaves, a glorious show of possibility which will not last.   He’d shrugged. I always said I was no good (so that’s OK, because I got in first).  Bad, that he always had to analyse;  worse, that he had affairs because he could but then the schoolboy lying  –  that’s the worst. He doesn’t deserve her. She would tell him so but can’t. When they’re together tears will rise  to flood her face  and leave the words unsaid. This is her stop. One thing she hasn’t missed.