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Zach Houston’s Poemstore

In the center of a large white room sits a youthful man at an undersized table with an even smaller typewriter. His focus on the keys is attentive and easily distracted at the same time. There seems to be some buzz of guests around him as he types. My first impression was ‘performance artist’ as I wandered around the gallery to view the hundreds of scraps of paper that had been nailed to the walls around him. The scraps were filled with poetry, sketches, and some just blank. After some time of reading and walking I found some instructions on the exhibit. For a donation Zach will create an original poem for you from a word or topic that you suggest. How fun and interactive is that, and he is wearing a trucker hat with an infinity symbol so that’s worth the twenty bucks already.

I waited in a short line for my turn at the tiny table. As my turn arrives I have to admit I felt strangely nervous. How will he feel about my word? What reaction will it invoke. My turn arrived and Zach retrieved his hands from the typewriter to greet me with a smile and a hand shake. He is vivid, joyful and speaks even faster than me after 4 espresso. “Anna, you’re  the fourth Anna that I have met today, but you’re the first one that I have told that to. Really, three other Anna’s just today” this dialogue went on a bit more. He seemed to be completely engaged in our conversation, typing, and simultaneously  listening to a conversation on the side of the room. Multi-tasking in its purest form.

The conversation to the right of us was two children asking their father about  the “thing” that Zach was typing on. They wanted to know what it was and where the screen was. Their father told them it was like a computer without the screen, that the words came out on the paper. Zach replied by telling them about a young child that was in the day before and she had corrected her parent’s when they compared the typewriter to a computer. The young girl explained that it was more like a piano for letters. Zach felt that her observational knowledge warranted a mechanical engineering degree on the spot.

Zach turned back to me “sorry for your wait”. The hand written sign on the front of his typewriter read (Zach Houston, Poemstore), I had the instant flash of a child at a lemon-aid stand. The word I suggested was Light, no context, just the one word.

Light! Zach seemed energized to hear it, like an old friend that he had not seen for a while. He began to talk and type about light being the basic form of communication, like binary code, on and off, the basis for all life. He spoke so fast I could barely keep up. He typed two words on opposite ends of a scrap of paper and handed it to me, eyeye and lighght,  saying something about them being his two favorite poems that were in a book on opposite facing pages. I stared at my paper and have to admit I was a bit confused, but hey it was art!

There was a brief silence as Zach looked into my confused eyes and I laid my donation onto the small table. “Ok, now you will get a Zach Houston poem on light”. He continued to talk as he typed about light and how it related to all that we see and are. His energy and genuine passion flows as easily from his person as from the typewriter keys. It was a pleasure meeting him and getting to experience his pure expression of poetry.

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