By S. Alease Ferguson, Ph.D., LPCC
“I have been to hell and back and yeah it hurt like hell, but I have held it back” — Wesley Robinson, “Catching Hell” (c) 2010.
Recently, I sat down with Wesley Robinson, also known as “Wallstreet Wes.” We met near the Cleveland Museum of Art’s lagoon. Someone out for an afternoon stroll approached us and said, “Congratulations on the award, man! Why didn’t you tell me about the event or send me an invitation?” Robinson humbly replied, “Man, I did not know myself that I was up for the award.”
They were talking about Robinson’s recent win of the 2020-2021 Ohio Poetry Spoken Truth Award from Versified Expressions in Akron, Ohio. He was honored on September 25 by Versified Expressions, an Akron-based media company owned and operated by civil engineer, activist, author, and impresario Anthony “Amptified” Evans.
Ohio Spoken Word Poetry Award
To Wallstreet Wes Awardee of the 2020-2021 Versified Expressions Spoken Truth Award.
This Award is for the performer who speaks with substance, who is about what goes on in the community, and his or her own life. When the Artist Touches the Stage, we can hear truth in every word they speak!
Robinson is a talented young man with the stage name of “Wallstreet.” It refers to him uplifting the community and the developing others talent. I could not help but wonder how he emerged as a gifted communicator, influencer, writer, and performer of poetry by the age of 36.
An “influencer of the public good based on his massive community appeal, prevention, and intervention efforts to keep youth on the right path, and lead people in prison and reentry and their families to a realization of a brighter future. Wes says it all starts with love, healing hurts, forgiveness, and doing the demanding work of becoming our best selves. Here in Cleveland, and across the World Wide Web, Wallstreet Wes is a committed community activist and public speaker on the topic of juvenile justice and prison reform.
An Inspirational Force
To date, Robinson has served as a Reigning Poetry Slam Winner at Cleveland State University – Black Studies Department. He was the Ohio Department of Corrections’ first inmate to write, produce, and direct a movie and a soundtrack from the inside. “If I Knew Then What I Know Now” will be coming soon is his Amazon Prime Poetry Show and he has several other documentaries in the making.
Wherever he performs, Robinson considers it an opportunity to share his creative works as the give back to all that he has been given. “I am all about engaging in community activities that inspire dialogue and the listener’s personal growth and development,” he said.
Robinson volunteers locally with the organization Visions Revealed which he credits with furthereding his “entrepreneurial journey as a poet and filmmaker.” He also credits his “inner circle supports” of Great Minds Think Different Media and Comma Club-My Story Aint Over Clothing.
“These vehicles have allowed me to share my story to help inmates find their purpose, keep people out of prison, and situations linked to community and domestic violence. Overall, I am here to motivate people to create something that will enhance their lives and self-esteem and benefit the community and those around them,” said Robinson.
“Today, I am also so amazed at how I have been able to forgive, love and be loved, and be there for my family, my mate, and our daughter. I also cannot believe the numbers of positive people who are now a genuine and inspirational part of my life. So, by staying in the positive, life just keeps getting better,” he said.
Robinson said he has come a long way from being a troubled kid from Cleveland’s Lee-Harvard and Warrensville communities to jail, re-entry, college, and on to a thriving professional photographer, videographer, and performance poet. “Looking back, pain and anger drew me to the dark side. In my family, I am the only boy with four sisters, and I needed more of my dad’s support,” Robinson said.
“In prison, I met some older men who were husbands and fathers, and they knew something about life. Their investment in me helped settled me down, and I credit them for my 180-degree transformation that involved prayer and meditation. This quieting of my spirit allowed God to reach into me and download the poetic artform as the basis of my prison and prison-community ministry. It came to me in the wee hours of the morning.”
Then Robinson formed the Poet’s Laureate, a performance poetry troupe of prisoners committed to non-violence and a good word. After being released from prison, Robinson credits God with allowing him to keep sharing positive messages as he moved on to study at Cleveland State University, and open a multimedia videography services supported by his original theme “My Story Ain’t Over.”
Now he is crossing over into a new phase which he calls “At a stage of my life where a stage and my life are one in the same” (Wesley Robinson, 2021). He said It means that “wherever I speak I am connecting to give and receive healing.”
“Though I will never justify any of my wrongs, my dad is 100% here for me now. We now use our time together to work it out,” he said. “I am also proud to say that today I have my own family, and I do everything to pour loving care into all of our lives and our goals for the future. My life’s journey has unfolded into something that is now incredibly fulfilling.”
My and Your Story Ain’t Over Yet
“With my old and new mantras,” Robinson said, “I am living proof that none of us come here fully formed. We are a part of an “evolving life after birth called the fourth trimester. Our lives on planet earth are where we come to trip and fall, struggle through the rough patches, strive, make amends, dream, imagine, have learning lessons, believe, and hang in there long enough to receive our blessings and evolve into our best selves.”
Listening, I was mesmerized by his sharing of wisdom and truths so often seen only in the elders. Here a poem by Wallstreet Wes A’ CREW – Wesley Robinson Wallstreet Wes #ACREW #Poet… (facebook.com)