Alan Franks is the winner of several prestigious poetry awards, including in 2006 the inaugural Wigtown Prize, Scotland’s largest, judged by Don Paterson. In 2003 he won the Petra Kenney Prize, awarded by Sir Andrew Motion and, most recently the Wilfred Owen Association’s International Poetry Competition in 2014, presented by Michael Longley at the Winchester Poetry Festival, with his poem The Manor.
Jo Shapcott, former chair of the Poetry Society, has described his work as “intensely musical.”
The late John Rety, co-founder of Torriano Poetry, where Franks has frequently performed his work, considered him “a modern-day Sydney Carter”. (Carter was author of The Lord of the Dance.)
Alan’s poems range in form from the rhymed and strophic to the metrically liberal. Their content is variously humorous and intense, with the same awareness of the English ballad tradition that also colours some of his songs. He describes his influences as “fairly usual and predictable, all the way from the Metaphysicals to Hughes and Larkin.”
Though a self-declared agnostic, he has also worked in the format of the “secular hymn”. One of these, “Nothing More Than Man”, has been performed by the London Gallery Quire, of which he is a member.
Although he won the school poetry prize at Westminster, he wrote little more in the genre until he was in his fifties, preferring the medium of the song lyric. Then, he says, something happened. Two things happened in fact, almost simultaneously. One was the birth of his son and fourth child, Arthur. The other was the suicide of a friend.
It was not, he stresses, that he wanted to say something particular about these events, more that he wanted to say something and didn’t know quite what that was until he started writing.
As it turned out, the subject of death and loss did figure. One of his longer poems, Waiting Room, using the verse forms of Shelley’s Adonis, was described by Professor Ross Woodman, author of The Apocalyptic Vision in the Poetry of Shelley, as “a genuinely contemporary elegy which has all its classical connections in place.”
Some of his poetry can be found in his 2011 collection, Unmade Roads, published by Muswell Press.
Alan has written hundreds of poems. Here is a small selection.
The Manor, winner of the Wilfred Owen Association International Competition 2015.
Water, winner of the Southport International Poetry Competition 2005.
The Old Tunes, winner of the Petra Kenney Prize, 2004. Judge, Andrew Motion.