by Danielle Champiet-Coronado
Ever have a conversation with a book? Not a self-help book, but a real book. I never have – until now. My typical relationship with a book is to immerse myself in the story. So fun to do! Just cuddle up in my favorite reading spot with a giant cup of coffee and let my mind merge with the story. I walk the paths of the characters, empathize with their plights, fight side by side, but we never talk.
Reading Run The Red Lights by Ed Skoog was a much different experience for me. From the start I felt as if I was in a sepia-lit diner, sitting across from a noir detective like Sam Spade in a tan trench coat and rumpled suit, his Fedora tilted slightly off-side, listening to him tell story after story. Maybe he’s smoking a cigarette or maybe a stogie and nursing shots of bourbon as husky sax music subliminally stokes my emotions. Run The Red Lights is a book with its own three-dimensional persona.
It regales you with the mystique of Topeka, Kansas, adventurous liaisons and sultry theater experiences. Mundane activities take on the luster of a hundred battles and you are drawn in to this wanderer’s drama. The words “tell me another” leap from your lips at the conclusion of each poem, wanderlust embers now fully alight. Even the title inspires a sense of daring.
“I pass theaters the way I pass churches,
but like better this foldable theater
half-constructed in the mind,
sometimes thrown away
along with the day’s receipts.
Nothing’s lost. I carry my own
props in –- red telephone,
bowl of apples –- and then with me draw
back into the unseen.”
– excerpt from Being in Plays/Run The Red Lights by Ed Skoog
I recently spoke with author and poet, Ed Skoog, and shared my reactions to his book. Mr. Skoog’s response was that he “wrote the book trying to effect a feeling of conversation, of face-to-face talking.” Brilliantly done because that was exactly the way I felt as I read it. Mr. Skoog added that “he is interested in the relationship between the poem and the face, how reading a poem is similar to conversing face-to-face in times of symmetry and eye-movement, and what’s going on inside one’s mind.”
That last part makes me feel as if I have haplessly stumbled into an avant garde performance art display. Am I the viewer or the viewed? Only Mr. Skoog knows! Run The Red Lights is the poetic equivalent of both immersive and interactive theaters – the same of which I’ve heard about Mr. Skoog’s readings. May 29th will be my first time being treated to the Ed Skoog experience as he reads from Run The Red Lights and my synapses are crackling with anticipation.
Please join us May 29th at 7pm at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Vancouver, WA for the Last Tuesdays Poetry Event with our guest poet, Ed Skoog. Copies of Run The Red Light are available in-store or on-line at BN.com.