We had the good fortune of connecting with Alexander James and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alexander, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
Khalil Gibran – “ It is the responsibility of the poet to take the prisoner to the beach. Without him ever leaving his cell”. This quote consistently pushes my writing and drive for art and poetry. I must shape words in such a way that the listener is transported into the world I am creating through diction and passion. However, for me, I seek to transport my audience not just to the beach but most often simply to a mirror. To ask present truths in a way that allows them to choose how they will react to the information. How will you react if you were placed in a cage on the border as a child, or if you joined Abraham and his son on the mountain top. I want to place you in these places, not as a history lesson but for you to find what you do or who you would become if in that place.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
In ninth grade and high school, I took a speech class. The teacher gave us the assignment to do a mock weather report. In an attempt to impress my class, I raced my hand first. But my desire and eagerness to make a good first impression I completely forgot that I had a debilitating stutter. I stuttered my way through the entire presentation. The teacher responded and said, “Good thing you’re big and black because you’ll never get a job speaking“. Now I am a Poet, Coach, and Young Adult Leadership advocate, consultant, and speaker. I was born and raised in South LA and did not have many examples let alone male black writers. Life is was difficult as a young man trying to craft an identity and forge a path. Most people have heard the phrase that the Truth will set you free. My poetry challenges the listener to live this out. If the truth sets us free then lies build prisons. What I would want people to take away from my story is it they have two stories and two identities inside them. One where will they continue lying to themselves, are comfortable and accept every easily attainable goal for themselves. The other life however is at the end of a long and grueling road of honesty, transformation, and courage. But this life is the only one that comes with satisfaction. Which will you choose?
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would have t take him to Leimert Park in South LA. This historical landmark is a place brimming with culture and a hard-won inheritance. of creative power.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Wife. There’s no way I could’ve to pursue my dream without her support. I was working at a nonprofit that I loved but my wife knew I was not truly fulfilled in my work. She told me to trust God and leave my job and pursue my art and ministry. She said this while pregnant, I might add. I prayed that night harder than I ever did, But today I have been to 4 countries, shared on countless stages, published in 2 books, and completed my own manuscript for and book of poetry and a children’s book. Without her inspiration, I would have never been able to guide people to live their truth.
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Alexander James Ashley Bird