A Poet Shares His Philosophy
Above the clamor of an overcrowded Portfolio Coffeehouse and the hubbub of a busy street corner, as the sun sets above an overcast evening sky, an intriguing artist shares his story.
His name is Charlie E. Scott III, also known as Philosophy—a persona that precedes itself. And upon meeting him you notice two things: a colorful and sharp style and a welcoming smile that makes you feel like you’re old friends.
Scott is a poet and North Long Beach native who has seen the landscape of his beloved city change simultaneously with his craft. That’s where his legacy and tenacity comes from: his ability to change as he takes his career as a poet to new territory and heights.
Scott’s prolific performances have garnered him a reputation for being both charismatic and passionate. His energy and prowess on stage paved the way to garnering the opportunity to perform at Hollywood’s Improv Comedy Club, making him the first poet to perform at that venue.
Yet, every great artist has a beginning.
Scott’s family has lived in the same house for 35 years in North Long Beach. Many of his formative years were spent in a private school in Bellflower—but that all changed when he entered the 7th grade, attending the public Hamilton Junior High.
“It was a culture shock,” Scott claimed, transferring from a predominantly Caucasian school to a predominately African American school. “But you realize where your roots come from. Until then I didn’t have a sense of the African American community as a whole. But in going [to Hamilton] I realized how beautiful we are as a people.”
Outside of his family, Scott had not experienced his African American roots at the community level. At Hamilton, Scott felt connected to the pulse of his North Long Beach community, his African American roots, and—more importantly—realized life was broader than his just his physical surroundings. This realization became his launching pad for artistic expression.
At Jordan High School, Scott was introduced to creative writing. In English, Scott recalls a lesson on how to write a stanza of poetry. At the time Scott was in the Jordan High band and was active in sports on campus as well. Like any teen, Scott’s social obligations called and his studies became second fiddle—especially when it came to pep rallies. Rushing, to get out of class, Scott scribbled down a poem—apparently, a great poem—describing his perception of a pearl.
Before Scott was able to leave class, his teacher caught him at the door and expressed her interest in his piece, asking him to meet her after school to talk about it. Upon meeting his English teacher, she was amazed at how well his poem was written and introduced him to the creative writing teacher Ms. Tolstrip. Two weeks later Scott was in Tolstrip’s creative writing class, among other writers.
Scott was embraced by Tolstrip as well as the other students in class as a new, rugged, raw writer.
“It was the first time I heard my name synonymous to writing,” Scott expressed. “I am where I should be.”
Though he had writing skill, the ability to “paint pictures with words and have people see them vividly,” he did not consider himself a poet quite yet. His second epiphany and confirmation of his artistic purpose in poetry came at freshmen orientation as he entered into Cal State Long Beach.
During the orientation program a poet performed. As Scott describes it, the young poet’s performance wasn’t like a typical poetry reading he was used to. This poet told a story with passion, with emphasis, with vivacity.
“‘I can do that but I’m going to do it differently’ I thought,” Scott said when he internalized the performance.
That night Scott went home a wrote his first performance poem. On campus, Scott saw a flier for an open mic night poetry reading. He knew how it worked, the concept behind it. In his words, “Who hasn’t seen Love Jones, right?”
Determined, Scott decided to go and to perform. Looking at the sign-up sheet, he remembered a moment when an old friend told him he sounded like a philosopher, from there on saying, “I’m gonna call you Philosophy.”
The open mic host asked him his name: “And instinctively, I said ‘Philosophy’,” Scott said.
After Scott performed his poem, the audience jumping to their feet, applauding. It was at that moment Scott became Philosophy the poet, stepping into the craft—and also into his purpose.
Since CSULB, accolades followed: He performed three times at the CSULB Black Grad, 2004-2006, scoring the number one love and political poem at the college level. He then went on to perform at NAACP’s National Poetry Month program and create the PSA “Getting Back to Work Long Beach” for Councilmember Steve Neal.
To say the least, the future looks bright for the North Long Beach native.
Currently, Philosophy founded a poetry band—Philosophy and the Scholars—comprised of background singers, a drummer and lead guitarist/composer Alex Babick. Philosophy is working on a studio album, half with his band and half acapella, in addition to a live album. A documentary was even shot about the formation of his band. To top it all off, when he’s not on set in the film industry working as a craft services specialist with his family’s company CNS Craft Services, he performs regularly all around Southern California, as well as hosting an open mic at Elise’s Tea Room for First Fridays.
“I love to say I am from North Long Beach,” Scott said. “You can go anywhere in the world yet where you’re from is what stays with you. [T]hese experiences [have] created the person I am today. It’s what has spearheaded me forward into my future.”
Philosophy always begins and ends his sets with his moniker: “Philosophy: the unsigned paradigm to poetry” – a paradigm shift in poetry, truly, and a pathway to a burgeoning career as well.
To find out more about Philosophy, visit http://www.philosophypoetry.com.
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