It never fails to amaze me how I can read a book and come away from the book thinking and/or feeling about it one way and then read that same book years later and come away with a totally different feeling. Maybe it was just the mood I’ve been in the last couple of days. I’ve been kinda of introspective and contemplative as I usually tend to get when the year winds down and while arraigning books in my bookcase, I took down Bill Friday’s A DEATH ON SKUNK STREET and on pure compulsion, read it.
First off, you have to understand that when it comes to poetry my appreciation of the art form begins and ends with Dr. Seuss. I simply never developed what I consider to be a proper appreciation of poetry so I never blame the poet if I don’t get the poetry.
But I’ve always liked Bill’s poetry as it has such a dark, witty sarcasm that greatly appeals to me and I liked A DEATH ON SKUNK STREET well enough when I first read it back in 2016 that I wrote a blurb for the book. But I’m a different Derrick Ferguson today from the one who read the book four years ago and a whole lot has changed for me emotionally and I suppose that’s why many of the poems in Bill’s remarkably intimate book have a whole new meaning for me as I caught myself time and time again, re-reading some of them two or even three times.
I have always admired Bill for his ability to be so concise in expressing such raw emotion so succinctly and conveying complex feelings with a deceptive simplicity that is also deeply profound. It’s not easy to do and my respects to Bill for being skillful and talented enough to do so.
The first time I read A DEATH ON SKUNK STREET it made me think. When I re-read it a few days ago, it made me feel. And in a subtle way, despite the angst and darkness in many of the poems, there’s also a lot of hope and wonder in them as well. In a very strange and unexpected way, A DEATH ON SKUNK STREET was a book I didn’t even know I needed to read but I’m glad I did.