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Illustrated Poems

Paul Francis has brought the poems written by Shropshire based poets for Refugee Week 2019 together in an anthology of this work, illustrated by local Artist which is due for publication later this year. 

Here are a few of the images from the book together with the texts that inspired them. 



by Keith Chandler

illustrated by Afifa Razzaq


 Sleep well little bro

 in your rucked up red t-shirt,

 blue shorts too big,

 head to one side, mouth slightly open,

 arms straight down by your sides.


 No father’s hand ruffles your hair

 with periodic affection

 but final pushes of water,

 waves crying themselves dry  

 on a dirty Turkish beach.


 No use murmuring to you

 of a make-believe world

 where grown-ups have learned

 not to fight.  Dream on.

 Dream on of a faraway land


 where those who are safe and warm

 watching pictures on TV

 try to be kind, to share

 what they can. Something

 appears to make you smile


 as, turning you over with his boot,

 a tall policeman

 carries you ashore draped

 over his arms like an offering                  

 or like a child deeply asleep.




by Sharon Ashton

illustrated by Niki Holmes


Uprooted from their Eastern beds, women

work the soil in scarves of scarlet and gold;

Matryoshka dolls in our English dust.



Tremulant to swell              

by Jean Atkins

illustrated by Poppy Child


a blare of granite sound & then a stealing in

of softness & we drum

soil-deep this prehistoric mound

a mellow thud of bellows held

in the round of churchyard, all

its praying stones


today our heads tipped up to the shining

organ, oak & gold

voicing, by generous subscription, all

the singing centuries

now our heads are weighted down

with walls & bells


& pressure of branching columns lifts

a wooden canopy of quiet, while

in the nave our hearts are wrung –

landlocked, we sit & think of tides

as organ bellows like a bull

& treads the shore we fear


to drive a flight of families across

a continent of noise

thins to our fraying vox humana

all notes of orange

lifejackets bobbing on the swell

so here’s earth’s rumble then

the chord that strikes the blow

Tremulant to Swell


Written by Bethany Rivers 

Illustrated by Poppy Child


Syria within me

your crumbling empty houses

a skeleton of a city

desolate desecrated



Palestine within me

your land robbed 

olive trees poisoned

crimes against The Wall

barriered bombed broken


Europe within me

every flag of every nation

long peace cross-bordered

patchwork of language & culture

wind carries translations


Blood battles within me

the silent ones that nobody speaks of

in families, out of families, cut between classes

scars and fences needing to be undone

for many generations yet to come


Russian pogroms within me

in the bones of my Great Grandmother

her silent screams from the Pale of Settlement

broken babies

sunset bleeding on the streets


This fountain within me

rich with the song of every tongue

we each gaze into the eyes of the other

everybody holds out their hands

forms one great circle, one voice


What would you take - What would you lea

 Dedicated to Hamid.


Wherever you are now Hamid - I hope you have found the inner peace and happiness you longed for.

What would you take:

What would you leave?

written and illustrated by Niki Holmes


Want would you take -

If you had to flee today?

Just what you could carry, 

in one piece of hand luggage.

The practical and the sentimental.

All your life’s essentials.


What would you leave –

If you had to leave today?

From your home and all the long hours, 

filled with what you must abandon.

Your friends and your family.

Life’s comforts and security.


Imagine yourself,

becoming someone else.

A shadow cast by the flames

of a conflict that consumes trust.

What then would define you?

The grief, the fear, or some slim thread of hope.


Where would you go - 

If you had to flee today?

What would you find -

a land that turns hostile eyes on you

or a smile of welcome?


Imagine being put to the test,

then finding yourself.

That you are all you need.

Someone that can survive and thrive,

resilient and resourceful.

Imagine a time - 

being accepted and respected

Imagine -

reconciling your past

and owning your future.

Imagine your sense of relief.

What would you take
My house is dissolving

My house is dissolving        

Written by Chris Kinsey  

Illustrated by Poppy Child

Glass wavers to a mirage -

a bumble bee drones through window holes

last slates scatter into swifts.


It was definitely there last night -

I bedded down between barricades of boxes

when the rain began pelting the roof.


It must’ve decided it isn’t needed

since today is cloudless and so blue…

There’s just this façade.


Birds drench the hole with song

a small lake gurgles up,

lapping and rippling.


There’s nowhere to squat

apart from the tiny proscenium

of the front doorstep.

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