Building on the successful "Let's Talk Art" panel session on race, culture and art in March 2023, Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL), the Museum of Creative Human Art (MOCHA), and Assembly for the Arts invite you to join us for a celebration of spoken word. Learn from the experiences and perspectives of our panelists - Honey Bell-Bey, Jennifer Coleman, Siaara Freeman, Calil Gage, Wesley (Wallstreet Wes) Robinson - in an engaging dialogue moderated by Deidre McPherson, Chief Community Officer for the Assembly for the Arts. Brief reception and spoken word performance immediately following.
Coleman is the Foundation’s program director for Creative Culture and Arts. Prior to joining the Foundation, Coleman, an architect, was president of her own design firm, Jennifer Coleman Creative. Earlier in her career, she practiced architecture at several local architecture firms. She also founded CityProwl.com, a company that produced audio walking tours of Cleveland that highlight the distinctive history and architecture of Cleveland. Among her many civic endeavors, Jennifer has served as chair of the Cleveland Landmarks Commission, the Downtown/Flats Design Review Committee and the Group Plan Commission. She also has been a member of the board of trustees of many local arts and cultural organizations. Coleman received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University.
Honey Bell-Bey holds a BA in Broadcast Production Technology from Bethune-Cookman University. A motivational poet, writer, educator and community advocate, Bell-Bey is an Ohio Certified Prevention Specialist and the founder and director for The International, Distinguished Gentlemen of Spoken Word, a character based performance troupe for adolescent males who perform on topics of disparities and social injustices. She has performed, directed, and choreographed Spoken Word performances internationally and has received numerous awards and accommodations for her service and activism utilizing poetry as a tool to unite communities around issues in social justice and equity. She was appointed the poet laureate of Cuyahoga County in January 2020, the first poet in sixteen years to hold the position.
Siaara is a 2023 Room in the House fellow with Karmau Theater and a 2022 Catapult fellow with Cleveland Public Theater. She is a 2021 Premier Playwright fellow recipient withCleveland Public theater. She is a 2020 WateringHole Manuscript fellow, 2018 Poetry Foundation incubator fellow and a four time nominee for the pushcart prize. Her work appears in The Journal, Josephine Quarterly, Cleveland Magazine and elsewhere. She has had multiple poems go viral and has toured both nationally and internationally. Her first full length manuscript Urbanshee is available with Button Poetry and is a 2023 finalist for the Audre Lorde Award as well as a 2023 Silver Award winner for the Benjamin Franklin IPBA award for Poetry.
Calil “JUST C.O.S.” Cage is a poet, speaker, educator, and two-time author. He is the founder of and currently serves as the Executive Director of The Sparrow’s Fortune. Born in Chicago, and raised in Columbus, OH, Calil currently resides in Cleveland, OH. He gained his Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University. Recently, he was awarded the Helping Hands Award by the Cuyahoga County ADAMHS Board, because of the communal nature of his work in the poetry world. His poetry and spoken word most often highlight the Black community, trauma resilience, hope, healing, spiritual principles, and more. “C.O.S.”, pronounced “cause”, stands for Collection of Seeds. He sees his words as “just a collection of seeds” planted into the hearts of those who listen. He hopes to continue honoring this moniker and planting seeds of impact in every community he visits.
Wesley (Wallstreet Wes) Robinson
Wesley Robinson was given the moniker, “Wallstreet” because of how he genuinely invests in the lives of others. At the age of 21 years old Wallstreet he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for two counts of aggravated robbery. A crime Wallstreet has taken full accountability for.
During his tenure in prison, Wes was often mentored by men serving life or more years than a man can live, who encouraged him to embrace his prison experience as a life lesson. With this knowledge, at the age of 24 years old Wallstreet began to pour that same wisdom onto the other young males who were serving long stints like him. After awhile the administration of the prison threatened to place Wes in solitary confinement if he kept on impacting the population in a positive way. These threats only encouraged him and led him to informally form an organization called “Digging Diamonds from Dirt”, where he educated himself and others on black history and poetry so that they could express themselves to elders who only judged them as wild and young instead of youth in need of guidance.
In 2012, Wallstreet Wes was transferred to a minimum level security prison where he was able to truly find himself creatively.
About the moderator
Deidre McPherson, Chief Community Officer at the Assembly for the Arts, is a creative producer and entrepreneurial strategist dedicated to bridging the gap between artists, communities, and institutions. Her passion for recognizing the creative talent in her community and connecting artists to the public through cultural events and opportunities has been at the core of her work. Her advocacy for Black and Brown and LGBTQ+ creatives enables her to be a prominent force in the collective shift towards equity in Northeast Ohio.
Over the years, Deidre has held leadership roles at the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (moCa). At both institutions, she was responsible for curating and managing events designed to make the museum a vibrant, socially relevant, and welcoming destination. Similarly, as Director of Artistic and Community Initiatives for FRONT International Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, she introduced community engagement practices that focused on amplifying Black and Brown creatives. Through her consulting practice, she has worked on projects for clients including the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), Studio West 117, Karamu House, Dance Cleveland and the Saint Luke’s Foundation. Deidre earned a Bachelor's degree from Miami University (with minors in Violin Performance and Arts Administration) and an MBA from the University of Maryland.