By Ron Steelman
I said, “Why are we doing this?”
Brother Scott said, “It’s just a gift, that’s all.”
I liked the simplicity of that. Even though I’m a devout skeptic, I couldn’t find any reason to object.
Scott said, “You pick some of the poems from the book, the ones that speak to you, and record them. Send the files to me and I’ll score some background music. We’ll put them
on a CD by Thanksgiving and Paul will take it to his dad, the poet, up in Woodstock, New York.”
I selected the poems I liked, rehearsed, and then recorded them — sitting in my pantry with beach towels masking the food on three sides. It makes a good sound booth with dead air, perfect for recording.
As I read the poems they made me think about how universal the human experience is. These poems were not my poems, yet they seemed to dig down and explore aspects of the human spirit to which we all can relate. These poems have nothing to do with secular humanism, but they have everything to do with being human. This isn’t a naive revelation about poetry, but rather a reminder to me that Humanism espouses the arts. The human creativity involved in this project is a demonstration of that philosophy.
The following statements are from Affirmations of Humanism: A Statement of Principles. Whenever I read through the Affirmations I linger over these two statements, pondering my life, much of it spent in the arts:
“• We are engaged by the arts no less than by the sciences.
• We believe in enjoying life here and now and in developing our creative talents to their fullest.”
My response is always, “Yes, yes, yes, Arts change lives!” The more we experience music, dance, theater, poetry, literature, art — the more we come to realize that we are all one. As Humanists:
“• We attempt to transcend divisive parochial loyalties based on race, religion, gender, nationality, creed, class, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, and strive to work together for the common good of humanity.”
Paul read two of his father’s poems. Scott read one. Plus, Scott introduced the text-to-voice character, the irreverent Glot Schpeilman. Bob’s poetry will never be the same.
Scott’s skillful musical scoring frames these poems, carefully supporting every word. His music is not background music, but rather, something called “magic.”
Turn up your speakers and play here.