Paul Bura, a wonderful poet and a lovely friend of mine, passed away peacefully earlier this morning in hospital. His final battle with many ailments is over. In all his devastating illnesses he still conveyed a tremendous sense of humour and inner peace. He touched the hearts and minds of many people.
I first met Paul in the mid-70’s when he used to run Manna, a health food shop in Herne Bay. People came to him with their troubles and fears; they always left uplifted.
I lost contact with Paul when I went to live in France and he to the wilds of Wales. Then in 1998 I received a letter and a book of poems from him and from then on we were avid letter writers sending each other poems and playlets and musing about the world and generally having fun. He often signed his letters – love n light n laughter! That was his philosophy of life.
Paul has published about 10 anthologies of poems as well as a novel and a thought-provoking book about crop circles despite a tough start to his young life. He was struck down with polio when he was seven years old and his early years were spent in hospitals and special (read: brutal) schools for handicapped children. He could have been a wonderful stage actor with his deep booming voice and his gift for all things thespian. But it was not to be.
Instead, he concocted himself a fascinating life that embraced poetry and live performances and crop circles and the spiritual world and many other things.
Throughout all his ordeals, he kept a smile on his face and joy in his heart. As if he hadn’t had enough physical hardship inflicted on him, about 15 years ago he started having fits and it was discovered he had meningioma, a tumour on the brain. It was a terrifying ordeal for him and yet he somehow kept his sense of humour throughout.
He wrote in his book, The Stranger on the Threshold, that his brain tumour was the size of an orange:
“They did not specify what size of orange: a Jaffa or the smaller Spanish variety!”
Typical Bura. Deal with adversity with a quip and move on.
His poetry attracted fans from far and wide.
Spike Milligan, the comedian, actor and writer, was a fan and wrote:
Paul Bura is a straight down-the-line poet. He is sensitive and emotional, a journalistic poet with a good sense of imagery.
And yet he is more than just a journalistic poet, although he himself writes that he strives to be “just a poet”. His talent lies in his deceptively simple style that lures us so effortlessly into his world. He leads us down paths we never imagined existed; he can also take us down well-trodden paths we know and make us see them anew. Knowing Paul, he would probably add he sometimes leads us up the garden path as well . . . He’s a poet who cares . . . Just another poet? I don’t think so.
Christy Brown, the Irish writer and painter who was portrayed by Daniel Day-Lewis in the film My Left Foot, enthused about Paul’s writing:
I laughed out loud in my midnight room at some of his tough, witty descriptions of childhood, smiled sadly at his love encounters, and groaned when he struck a certain all too responsive chord within myself. He has a voice that would make Dylan Thomas growl in his grave with envy.
Ian Dury, the English rock and roll singer, said:
This geezer says it the way it is.
John Webster, a longtime pal of Paul’s and a friend and former Whitstable Times colleague of mine, wrote on Facebook this morning:
“One of the finest, bravest, most humane people I’ve ever had the privilege to know and indeed, call my best friend, Paul Bura,passed on today. He’d had two epileptic fits and contracted chronic pneumonia. Stoic and brave to the last, he refused the oxygen. Paul, I raise a glass and a reefer to you, soul brother.”
John also paid tribute to Paul with this on Facebook:
No more poetry on a brown paper bag
No more words of comfort and soulful wisdom
No more side splitting jokes on the ironies of life
You were our great soul brother
A life of pain and struggle turned around
Light and eternal love of our lives
A candle burns in our hearts for you, dear friend
May you find where your heart always belonged.
Paul Bura, 67, only a few days before being rushed to hospital, posted on his blog this month a poem. I’ll let my dear friend have the final word:
And just melt
And become just
No I no me no anything,
And become it all,
All of it!