A pair of authors wants black people’s experiences and voices to be heard and that will be captured in poetry to kick off Black History Month events for attendees of an upcoming book signing in Alexander City next week.
Authors Eddie Bell and Runas C. Powers will read poems and sign copies of their books at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Adelia M. Russell Library.
Bell wants to share some of his life experiences at the book signings.
“I want to tell a well-rounded story about black people,” Bell said. “I’ve ridden the Jim Crow trains in the South. I’ve had a lot of experiences over my 80 years.”
Bell will read from his most recent book “Recrudescence: Poems in the Key of Black” and Powers will read his poem “The Blues of a Negro” and selections from his five books, “A Right to Write,” “A Collection of Thoughts,” “Simply Runas,” “Heart Soul & Rhyme” and “Verses of Pain and Love.”
Bell, of Charlotte, North Carolina, has read in Alexander City before and connected to Alexander City resident Powers through Alexander City resident Abraham Shelton Jr. After Powers and Bell exchanged their work, they decided to hold the signing together during Black History Month.
“I want to have my voice heard in Alabama and tell my story and the story of other people,” Bell said.
Powers grew up hearing stories from his grandparents, who were both born at the turn of the 20th Century as well as his father and uncle, who were born in the 1930s. He wants to inform others about their experiences with his poetry.
“I try to do that through my work and give a message of love because God is love and I try to love,” Powers said. “The only way we can change things and (make) things better for the new generation is to show love and not hate.”
Bell was inspired by his grandmother to write poetry because she was also a poet.
“I use (poetry) as my primary venue to communicate in writing,” Bell said.
Published last year, Bell’s most recent book includes poetry on life as a black person, surviving prostate cancer, the idea of manhood and his mother who died when he was 2 years old. Bell drew inspiration for poems about his mother by reading from letters dated back to World War II she wrote to his father.
“I think the stories of black life need to be told,” Bell said. “The book has poems that are some historical, some race-related and some about black humanity.”
Powers’ lyrical poems are about relationships, family odes, studies, politics and spiritualism.
Bell attended Tennessee State University during the Jim Crow era but grew up in Illinois where he was usually the only black student at his schools.
Bell was an assistant professor and associate dean of admissions at State University of New York at New Paltz and helped integrate 1,000 black students on campus.
He was also the assistant vice chancellor for student affairs from 1987 to 1994 and began focusing on writing after he retired. He mentored black youth and encouraged them to go to college.
Powers is hoping to leave the event inspired. Powers wants to pay homage to those who made a path for him.
“It’s an honor and a privilege and I’m very blessed to be a part of this reading,” Powers said. “My whole life is dedicated to serving God and those who helped along the way.”
Powers grew up in Alexander City and majored in technical writing and professional writing and minored in history at Troy University. There he volunteered at a Mount Meigs youth correctional facility and did unspecified worked with men. Powers said his times in college inspired him to write.