Alexander Paul’s poetry publication a memorial to lost talent who inspired policy changes

BY CALUM FRASER calum@slpmedia.co.uk

Alexander Paul inspired a future Prime Minister, helped to change police stop and search policy in London and wrote a collection of poetry.

Mr Paul, 21, who grew up in Crystal Palace and was schooled in Lambeth, died in June last year after a battle with brain cancer.

His mother, Joanna Brown, has published a selection of his poetry and is hosting a reading event in Brixton on Wednesday, July 4.

Ms Brown said: “He was amazing. He was just interested in everything. I think that’s what made him such a great writer.

“I gave him a notebook when he was five and you couldn’t separate him from it. “He wrote all his thoughts in there. I wish I could find that notebook now.

“He wrote me a poem when he was 15 for my 50th. It was beautiful. That was when I realised he had a great talent.”

The Gypsy Hill boy gained public attention when he delivered a speech to the Conservative conference in 2014 aged 18.

He urged members of the Tory Party to reform stop and search policies, saying that he was stopped more than 20 times when he grew up.

Theresa May paid tribute to him at the Conservative Party conference last year.

She said he had “inspired” the party and that because of this she had “shaken up the system” and reformed discriminatory stop-and- search practices.

Ms Brown said: “He was interested in going into politics, but I don’t know if he supported any party.

“He wanted to help young men. He went through a period of being low.

He realised a lot of men are not opening up about their true feelings and emotions.

“Some of his friends had been sucked into the street life. They had to act hard and be brave. He thought he could help them.

I think his poetry was part of that.”

An extract from The Spoken Word by Alexander Paul “I Am”

I was writing poetry before the womb, I was talking to God before he created the stars and the moon.
I was climbing clouds catching comets, callously as my calluses could not burn.
I clasped into the corners of the sun, I was a father to sons who were never mine.
I was a teacher before the Moors brought culture to Europe.
I was alive before time was recognized as time.
I was talking to the spirits of your forefather’s ancestors as we plotted plans that would prevent our enslavement.
I was a mystery before the people of Africa lost their history.
I was there, but unfortunately the bullets missed me and I couldn’t save the lives of innocent victims of police brutality.
Misery, misery is all that I see.

Mr Paul went to Elmwood Primary school in West Norwood, St Josephs Secondary school in Upper Norwood and Saint Francis Xavier Sixth Form College in Clapham.

“Everyone remembered him for his dancing skill,” Ms Brown said. “He was a huge Michael Jackson fan.”

Mr Paul was in his second year at Warwick University studying Politics and International Relations when he collapsed and started having a seizure.

After a scan they found he had a malignant tumour in his brain, similar to the type of cancer that killed former Dulwich MP Dame Tessa Jowell.

Ms Brown, the daughter of Windrush generation parents, said: “I didn’t accept it. “We tried everything to save him.

He always put on a brave face and said he was going to get better.

“We fund raised £55,000 in a week to fly him out to Germany for specialist treatment. It was a testament to how popular he was. People were so generous.

“But he couldn’t get rid of the tumour.

“In February 2017 he was not moving well and by Easter he was bedridden.” On June 3, 2017,
Mr Paul died.

Ms Brown said: “Putting this book together was tough. “They’re not all personal poems, but there is so much of him in them.

“In a certain way it was a grieving process. This book shows a small part of the potential he had.”

The book is called Climbing Clouds: Catching Comets and it is available on Amazon.

To get tickets to the event on Wednesday, go to www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/climbing-clouds-catching-comets-poetry-evening-tickets


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