Frank was born in Preston, Lancashire in 1925. He was a Radio Officer in the Merchant Navy during the war and after working in local government for ten years, trained to become a teacher, retiring as Head of English at Orwell High School, Felixstowe in 1984.
We were sad to learn that Frank died in the early hours of 24 September 2020. Frank was beloved by many in the Suffolk poetry scene, and will be much missed. He was also a fine jazz singer.
Frank has read his poems on local radio in Lancashire and Suffolk, at universities, colleges, village halls, churches and pubs and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including Encounter, Ambit, Acumen, Orbis, South, The Countryman, The Independent and many others now defunct. He came first in the Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition in 1985 and ’89 and has won prizes in several others. His pamphlet, Racing the Stable Clock, was published by Happenstance Press in November 2012.
He started the Preston Poetry Workshop with poet Jim Burns in 1970 and was joint founder of Ipswich Poetry Workshop in 1974. Influences were Walt Whitman, T S Eliot, Louis McNeice, W H Auden and Peter Porter, but it was reading Philip Larkin’s second collection, The Less Deceived, in 1957 that led him to think that he might one day be able to write poetry. For that day, he had to wait another ten years.
Frank enjoys theatre and has been active in amateur dramatics as stagehand, actor and producer. He also enjoys most kinds of music and has frequently been seen and heard performing popular ballads and singing with an a cappella group, Quintessential, in Felixstowe and most parts of Suffolk. In 2006, he made a CD of ballads and jazz standards with musician, Bill Stoddart. He has always been a keen walker and mountaineer and remains an inveterate church-crawler and country house creep.
He is widowed and has one married son and two granddaughters.
LETTER FROM HOME
Everything is house-shape this end.
Well, practically everything:
the dishes dry more slowly,
and newspapers sprawl on the chairs,
but in between phone calls from your friends
I’ve made the Hoover my own.
You’ve been gone five days,
and there’s a strange absence of dust
as if the rooms are trying to mimic
that sterile theatre
where you hold centre stage.
I could say things are going smoothly
but I stumble over thoughts of pain,
your own exclusive pain.
At night, my pulse
sounds more importunate
than pounding engines of ships
that pass along the inshore channel,
but the silence of the kitchen
pervades the house,
and the emptiness of the bed
reaches inside me.
Copyright © 2018 Frank Wood