Poetry at the highest volume for James Scott

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 25, 2005

While in a library, it’s common courtesy to speak in a low voice.

That is, unless you’re the LOUD Poetry Guy!

For over 20 years, James Scott has been shouting, screaming, blaring and roaring poetry at children from across the area. On Wednesday morning, Scott showed his oratorical skills to a few dozen kids at Morgan Memorial Library.

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&uot;I’m going to tell a story about a child who gets straight A’s in school without doing any work,&uot; he said softly, the calm before the storm. &uot;He tells a way to have lots of friends without being nice to people.&uot;

He took out the Shel Silverstein work &uot;Gorilla,&uot; and the bellowing began.

&uot;Since I brought my gorilla to school, everyone’s nice to me,&uot; Scott read at high volume, waving his arms around. &uot;The teacher’s more pleasant, the kids bring me peanuts, the principal serves me bran muffins and tea.

&uot;I’m welcome to munch upon anyone’s lunch, and I was just voted ‘Most clever and cool.’ Though I chew gum and play, my report card’s all A’s since the day I first brought my gorilla to school.&uot;

The kids howled and cheered, and Scott gave them a lesson in feeling scared.

&uot;A lot of time, we’re afraid of what we think something is instead of what it is,&uot; he said. To make the point, he cried out his own work, Roommate.

&uot;I am a monster, your closet’s my home,&uot; he yelled. &uot;When your room gets dark, that’s when I roam… Sometimes it sounds like your room explodes, it’s just me in the corner, blowing my nose, and if you hear steps while you’re trying to sleep, it’s just me walking around on my monster feet.

&uot;Yes, I walk in the dark, filling you with fright, because you wouldn’t be scared if it were daylight. No matter how loud I would howl or cry, the monster in your closet’s only one inch high!

&uot;That’s what fear is,&uot; he said. &uot;If a truck’s coming and you’re standing in the middle of the road, please get out of the way, because it’s really going to hurt! But if you hear noises in your room, you should just find out what they really are.&uot;

For his final act, Scott screeched the story of Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout, who, as we all read in Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends, would not take the garbage out.

&uot;And so it piled up to the ceiling, coffee grounds, potato peelings, brown bananas, rotten peas, chunks of sour cottage cheese… the garbage rolled on down the hall, it raised the roof, it broke the wall.

&uot;The garbage reached across the state, from New York to the Golden Gate, and there in the garbage she did hate, poor Sarah met an awful fate, that I cannot right now relate.

&uot;The message is,&uot; Scott said after his throat calmed down, &uot;that if you don’t do your housework, you’ll destroy the entire United States of America!&uot;

His art of top-decibel poetry began on a whim, Scott said afterward.

&uot;I was reading to a class as a celebrity reader,&uot; said the former standup comic. &uot;I read so loud that I managed to annoy another class.

&uot;Some kids came over and asked if I’d read to there class, and the principal asked me if I’d read to the whole school. Then he asked if he could pay me!

&uot;I sometimes do up to seven shows a day,&uot; he said. &uot;It’s not hard; you just have to pick out the poems you can do loudly.&uot;