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Kevin Powell’s new book shines light on poverty, creates community discussions
By Danielle Cralle, Staff Writer
Published December 3, 2015
(Michael Scott Jones photo)

(Michael Scott Jones photo)

Growing up poor can be an isolating and scarring experience that affects many, but is discussed amongst few.

In Kevin Powell’s new autobiography, “The Education of Kevin Powell: A Boy’s Journey into Manhood”, he takes the reigns and gives his first-hand account of what it’s really like living in and escaping poverty, in hopes of healing and connecting others.

Powell, who lived in New Jersey with his single mother until the age of 18, is best known as a writer and activist. His work has appeared in Vibe, Esquire and Rolling Stone.

“Unfortunately, a lot of us come from poverty,” Powell said. “It’s a tremendously painful and traumatic experience.”

In his autobiography, Powell addresses the effects of his upbringing in a way that he hopes will combat the loneliness that often accompanies extreme poverty.

“Your world is pretty much where you are,” Powell says.

The book is split into two parts. The first chronicles Powell’s early life and the second part covers his life as an adult. Powell, the first member of his family to attend a University, says the structure of the book was meant to draw readers in and establish a connection with them.

“You feel like you’re there with that 8 year old boy,” Powell said.

Indeed, the experiences that Powell went through in his early life create a sense of empathy for the reader that carries on throughout the book.

“I had to recount violence, I had to recount abuse,” he said. “What you experience in your early years is going to manifest itself in your later years.”

But for Powell, the journey out of poverty was always the goal. “The first 18 years of my life was about trying to get up out of my hometown and trying to do something with my life.”

On a broader scale, Powell hopes that his memoirs will help others to speak openly and honestly about poverty, and other issues, in hopes of building a stronger community.

During Powell’s book tour, he stopped by Esso Won bookstore in Leimert Park and discussed violence and education with community members.

“I wrote it intentionally so that it could reach a wide range of people,” Powell said. “The hope is, now that I’m an adult writing about my specific experiences, that it will affect other people.”

Categories: Entertainment
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