We'd never seen a real-life poet before Will Da Real One. He was not some boring page inside a book, or stale words inside a class room. He was a giant dude using spoken word to grip an audience with the depth and presence of his speech. His lyrical assault and heavy knowledge shined brighter than the gold fronts that he sometimes spoke his lines through.
Even though he won New Times' Best Poet award in 2005, and he was featured in a Masters Of The Mike article in 2006, we should have done more to support his movement. Now he's dead, gunned down last Sunday at the age of 47 out front of the Literary Cafe and Poetry Lounge on 933 NE 125th Street. But his spirit, and his words live on.
Here are some events commemorating his life and some memories from his friend Addonis Parker, who spoke with Crossfade by cell from his car as he made his way to the Will's viewing.
"William Bell was a respected and nationally renowned poet. He was respected. I'm going to his wake right now. There are so many things you could say ... He was strong as a statue. He demanded respect. He was one of the greatest contemporary poets of our time
because he spoke about reality. He spoke on subjects that weren't too comfortable for most audiences."
"He was an artist. He captured any audience. By the time he was done, you'd find yourself applauding or standing up, and didn't even know he'd lifted you up on your feet.
"I met Will in 2002 at Magic Billiards on 27th Avenue and 79th Street. That's where I first met him. One of his gifts was to get people together, and he was good at networking. He was like a walking Facebook. If somebody was looking for something, you could go to Will and he could make a phone call."
"He created a space and a niche with his words and the power of his mind. Nobody can take that away from him. He was a business man and he always talked about opportunities. He was an entrepreneur.
"If anybody can learn something from him, it's not the negative. He made himself a natural resource in Miami, and his work will continue to live on because he was a poetry powerhouse, and because the flesh is gone but the spirit is alive.
"I can still hear him talk, y'know. I get the same feeling as when Tupac passed because he had rapport with the poor and with corporate America, everybody loved him. He had the presence, he had the temperament, and also he was aggressive. He attacked. He had confidence. And when a man has confidence, you don't think about your opposition. You just flow. You ride into the wind with it. He knew what he had. And people respected his confidence."
"He inspired a great number of poets. [And] I never heard a poet talk like him. It was internal. He touched on poverty, gun violence, and there's a lot of poets that were afraid to. He came with it. He put the raw in your face. Any poem that he wrote, he captured everybody and had them in his world. Didn't matter what color you were. It was so natural, and he put life in front of you. It didn't matter how ugly life was, it was a masterpiece. He was a true artist with words.
"Nobody can be Will. Sometimes we regret not spending enough time with him. He is -- and i don't say was -- definitely one of the greatest poets that I ever heard in my life.
"So many killings, man. I don't know what to say or what to do. I think what we need is ... Love is the answer, we need to embed that in the kids. Before you change the world you must become the change you wanna see."
- Homegoing services will be held on Saturday, June 4 at 1 p.m. at Upper Room Ministries (formerly Cooper Temple), 3800 NW 199th St., Miami Gardens.
- The viewing will be held on Friday, June 3 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. at Wright & Young Funeral Home, 15332 NW 7th Avenue, Miami.
- The Repast (Wake) will be held on Saturday, June 4 from noon to 7 p.m. at Palm Gardens, 2700 NW 167th St., Miami. If anyone wants to bring food or drink, please contact Lisa at 954-551-4040.
Will "Da Real One" Bell Fundraiser Events
- There will be a celebration of his life @ Vlada Lounge. (Friday, June 3rd 7-11pm 3215 NE 2nd Ave, Midtown, Miami)
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- Sunday Ginger Bay in Hollywood Celebrate Poet Will Bell (1908 Hollywood Blvd. Hollywood, FL)
- Saturday Night Live Will Da Real One, The Legacy Continues (8:00pm MOCA CAFE, 738 NE 125ST, MIAMI)
Donations are being accepted to assist with the family's funeral expenses. Please contact Ingrid Bazin at 305-527-3899 or firstname.lastname@example.org.