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Featured poet: Francesca Frawley

7 February 2022

Many thanks to poet Francesca (who also writes under the pen name Emma Price, for sharing this blog and two poems with us). If you enjoy poetry, art, music, and theatre from diverse and excluded communities, then sign up to our Hear Me out ebulletin.

My mum always jokes that I started writing before I could talk, and in some ways this is true. I wrote my first poem at 5, and have continued to write throughout my adult life, both for pleasure, and for work (I was a journalist for over 10 years).

I don’t have a particular style or form I favour, but my poetry is usually centred on my own experiences, or those I empathise with, such as mental health. While poetry is an enjoyable pastime of mine, I hope one day to share my poetry more widely with the world. I am also currently writing my first children’s novel, which will include emotional themes that I often explore in my writing.

Why I write: I have always found it difficult to express myself verbally (I didn’t speak until I was 4 and was also painfully shy – a winning combination!), so writing became the outlet for me to communicate effectively. I have always been inspired by darker, sadder themes, and my inspiration to write is usually borne out of trying or difficult moments in my life. My poetry is very raw at times, but others have commented that there is often a beauty amongst its bleakness. I also hope that my poetry can help others identify their own emotional difficulties, and by sharing my work, can help them to come to terms with painful experiences in their own life, or at least let them know that they aren’t alone.

The Unliving Crisis

That familiar unwelcome sound returns as the mechanical sound of an opened hinge echoes through a bare hallway.

A seemingly inoculous letter falls haphazardly on the doormat with a gentle thud that is enough to make him wince and crumple with boiled-over despair.

He tears it open with trembling fingertips as preprepared tears temporarily steal his sight and composure. Behind well-gnawed hands, he dares to read ahead to the terrifying conclusion of his fate, but this is no horror resigned to the figments of his imagination.

This psychological thriller is played out in a stage of his own making with these scenes continuing to play out beyond the final curtain.

His tormentor has him cornered, terrorising his senses with his incessant din of demands. Debts tower over him, threatening to spill over and drown him in an all-consuming wave.

With all pennies fully stretched to capacity, he resorts to paying the tiller with pounds of his own flesh, fulfilling collections with meagre morsels from his own mouth.

A vicious vortex of desperate cries richochet in his present, yet no one can hear him scream, for they too struggle silently, immobilised by the sycophantic mantra: keep calm and carry on.

I‘m too …

I’m too weak … yet my armour can’t hold back as many blows. It can’t stop an avalanche of attacks, when I’m alone and all exposed.

I’m too sensitive … yet my heart’s in sync with my fellow man. It can’t ebb and flow as easily, as others’ kindness can.

I’m too inadequate … yet before, I was enough. A bud doesn’t bloom without some warmth, nor does a diamond in the rough.

I’m too different … yet not one of us is the same. The differences between us transcend more than just our names.

I’m too nice … yet you’d want the alternative as the norm? Why can’t we relish a sunny disposition, and denounce the endless storms?

I’m too gentle … yet I know our fragility too well. Because I know we can’t always be protected, no matter how big the shell.

I’m too fat … yet so many look like me. But the world brands us as undesirable, because we’re the antonym of skinny.

I’m too square … yet throwing shapes isn’t my thing. I’d rather follow the beat of my own drum, than to others endlessly cling.

I’m too poor … yet my soul is intrinsically rich. This layman life may lack in resources, but self-fulfillment can’t be pitched.

I’m too stubborn … yet I know I’m always right. There’s no way that you can convince me otherwise of the outcome of this fight.

I’m too negative … yet being negative can be a plus. Because I now err on the side of caution, and am careful who to trust.

I’m just OK as I am … yet it has taken a while to see. My flaws and scars are just small parts of what makes me … me.

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