Smokey Robinson stars in solo poetry show in North Hollywood
This post has been updated. See note below for details.
Bob Dylan famously called Smokey Robinson “America’s greatest living poet” for the exquisite beauty, pain and affection in lyrics to “Tracks of My Tears,” “Tears of a Clown” and so many other songs Robinson wrote and sang during his heyday at Motown in the 1960s and 1970s.
Now, Robinson’s ready to share a side of his poetry largely separated from music in “Words,” a spoken-word program built around several long-form poems that Robinson will present in a pair of shows this weekend in North Hollywood.
On Friday and Saturday at El Portal Theatre, Robinson plans to present six largely autobiographical poems, says Brian French, who is producing the one-man show that is directed by his wife, Linda Cevallos-French.
“He’s been writing poetry for as long as he can remember,” French told Pop & Hiss. “It’s been a passion of his for a very long time. It’s just that most of his poetry has been used for his music.
“These poems take you on a journey through his life and career. He talks about growing up in Detroit, his musical background, his love for women, his love for God, his love for humanity. He sings a little bit, a cappella, and takes people on a walk through his history. These poems are masterpieces -- they’re long, interesting and really impactful.”
French said that the performances will be recorded and that Robinson is considering whether to release them on video, take the show out on tour or otherwise delve into additional performances. More information on the El Portal Theatre shows is available here.
Robinson previously exhibited his flair for spoken word poetry a few years back at a Def Poetry Jam event at which he delivered his poem “Black American”:
Update Sept. 19 at 7:17 a.m.: An earlier version of this post misspelled “Words” director Linda Cevallos-French’s name as Linda Cevallos-Smith.
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